I’m not really very sure about how one begins one’s first blog. My mother suggested a friendly greeting. I’ve decided to take her advice because she’s possibly the only person who will read this blog, and I must respect my only fan.
Note: My mother has just read this, and says that I can’t call her a fan until she reads a few more of my blog posts and is convinced of my authorial ability. Till then I can only refer to her as an ‘unbiased critic’.
Anyway, thinking of a friendly greeting was harder than I imagined. The first thing that sprung to mind was, ‘Dearest Diary’, but that would be an open declaration of dissociative identity disorder. It would also make this blog seem like it’s going to be filled with stories of flying ponies and pink, um, things favoured by tweens…which would attract paedophiles like moths to a light. So I began to think about ways people greet each other. The list was quite depressing.
The first was “hey” (volume, pitch and duration of time differ according to IQ level, gender and occupation). But I can’t really use “hey” in a blog, because it needs to accompanied by certain vocal trills in order to be effective. For example, if I were Paris Hilton, the ‘y’syllablle would have to be so high-pitched that only dogs could hear it. If I were to stress the ‘y’syllable for an inordinately long stretch of time, I’d probably be a cow.
Now that I think of it, in that case, I’d probably be saying ‘hay’ and not ‘hey’.
Variations of “hey” include “hey you” and “hey there”. But “hey you” is only appropriate if it’s followed by, “Are you looking at me?” and a punch in the nose, while “hey there” goes hand and hand with a friendly slap on the back.
“How’s it going?” is another type of greeting employed by several. But this, to me, seems rather vague. My immediate response is usually, “How’s what going?” The answer is generally, “It.”
A little more prodding leads them to come up with a very unclear explanation of what “it” might constitute. “Things,” they say. What do they mean by that? And what do I say? “Hmm…ah yes, the things. The things are doing fine. The things are really great. I love the things.” That sounds a teensy bit wrong. And creepy.
You could avoid all the unnecessary conversation and simply reply with the universally accepted response, “It’s good.” But then you’re obliged to ask, “And how’s it going for you?” If they too use the accepted response, the conversation is shot to pieces. You stand there, smiling politely and staring at your shoes, hoping that somehow, your shoelaces will get a life of their own and start spelling out words and coherent sentences which might help you resurrect the conversation. This continues until your fellow conversationalist says, “Well, I’ve gotta get going now, see ya,” and scampers away, hoping to never “see ya” again.
But perhaps the most banal and inane greeting of all is the colloquial, “What’s up?” I’ve spent many a restless hour pondering the appropriate response to this question. The internet throws up a number of responses – this is apparently a question that plagues many. Some replies such as ‘the sky’ and ‘the ceiling’ take the question quite literally. A few of the less intellectual replies involve uncalled-for references to body parts that would not be mentioned in polite conversation. Until now, I haven’t discovered an intelligent/ witty response to this nebulous greeting. Recently, I came upon a friend whom I hadn’t met in a while. “What’s up?” he greeted me. My brain was so befuddled by this question that I eventually responded, “Fine, thank you. And how are you?” He looked at me sympathetically, like I might be slightly slow. Which is exactly how I felt.
However, the most despicable of them all is, “Sup?” This contracted version of the already minute “What’s up?” was concocted simply for people who are too lazy shape their lips into two syllables.
Nowadays, I like to reply (wittily, if I may say so myself) “No, thanks; I just ate lunch.” But since most people don’t get my subtle reference to “sup” originally being a contracted form of ‘supper’, they look at me like I may not be completely right in the head.
So, at the end of my search for the perfect greeting, I decided to return to square one. To the first greeting used by the English-speaking world. The first word we say when we answer the telephone.