Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What's Up

How much longer will people be saying "What's up?" as a greeting? If we could all agree to stop now, I would be grateful, because it is a greeting that I have never known how to respond to. In high school I would always answer by saying, "The sky." I pretended like it was a cheeky answer, but really it was just a coping mechanism to hide my awkward inability to respond.

I no longer say, "The sky" because it is not actually as hilarious as I used to think. It is also sometimes misheard as, "This guy" which would sound kind of scandalous coming from a married lady.

Abandoning the cheeky answer tactic has left me grasping for something to say in response. I understand "What's up?" to mean, "What's going on?" or even "What's wrong?" If it is used in reference to an object, like "What's up with ponytails?" I can handle it. In the context of a greeting however, it is too vague a question.

I am also unable to say, "What's up?" and sound normal. (This is true for most slang.)

Even though this line of thinking makes sense to me, most people do not appreciate it as a response. So usually I answer "What's up?" with, "I'm doing well thanks, how are you?" This response makes no sense in the context of the question, but if I match the other person's facial expression and tone of voice they don't seem to notice.

So if you see me, try to use the most banal greeting possible, it will be better for everyone.


Sonya said...

For me, I take any greeting to be pretty rhetorical. "What's up?" "Hey"
This causes contention sometimes because if someone asks "Hi, how are you?" My response is also "Hey". Because the number of times that no one really cares about the answer to that question approaches 100%. If there is something you know me well enough to want to know, you know enough to ask about it.

Something I never noticed I do, until Paul pointed it out is that when someone makes some vague suggestion that we should do something at some point in the future maybe or some vague positive comment, I just kind of agree and don't add anything.
"Now that we live closer, we should hang out more."/"We should double date to the zoo sometime."/"I'm so glad you guys were able to come to that sock hop."

And apparently I just let my one word answer sit there. Floating in the awkward silence. Which I don't notice is awkward, because what part of what I said was wrong? We should do that thing sometime, I agree. No dates come to mind, but if in the ensuing silence you elect to offer a suggestion, I would be happy to check my calendar and let you know. Otherwise we can put a pin in it for the time being and see if an opportunity presents itself.

Sonya said...

Oh! And my general work response to "What's up?" is a very deadpan "Sooooo muuuch." "Really?" "No."