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What I didn't tell you

     How are you?    Fine.    Really?

     You know how it goes. You meet up with an old friend and he asks, "How are you?" and you say, "I'm fine. How've you been doing?" and he says, "All's good. Real good." And off you both go, pleased as larks that everyone's fine.

     Except. . . I don't know what he's not saying, but I know what I'm not saying. We do it every day—run into someone or meet them and ask how they are and they ask how we are and everyone says, "Good. Good. I'm doing fine. How about you?" and you say, "I'm doing well. Thank you."

     The things no one's saying—for instance me: I didn't tell you my ankle's killing me at the moment and I've been icing it and exercising and as soon as it starts feeling better it suddenly shoots a sharp pain at me and the tingling starts all over. Who wants to hear about that? First of all, you don't have time to stand and listen to me go on about my ankle pains not to mention you probably have a few pains of your own. Second of all, I don't want to stand and hear all your suggestions for what I should be doing about the ankle pain and how your mother's second cousin had the same pains and she. . . And third of all, I just don't want to talk about it.

     That's not all I'm not telling you. At the moment I'm on my way to get a load of paper towels to soak up this morning's overflow in the bathroom from the stopped-up toilet that the plumber can't come to repair until next Tuesday because he just went on vacation. Wish I could. Go on vacation.

     And I for sure didn't tell you my cell phone is sitting in a bowl of rice because stupid me, I dropped it into the overflowing toilet when I tried to make the toilet flush with that big black plunger—which did absolutely nothing. And I have to get more rice because there was only enough left to cover the bottom side of the phone. Guess I'm not a good Boy Scout, running out of paper towels and not enough rice to cure a wet cell phone. Oh, right. I'm the wrong sex, too. No wonder I'm not prepared.

     You don't want to know about my car and its flaking door handle. Not a big deal but I took the car in yesterday for an oil change and of course I forgot to tell them the chrome finish is flaking off the inside door handle and a super sharp piece of it's sticking up where you grab the handle to open the door. And of course, they didn't notice it when they did the oil change and washed the car so I had to wrap tape around the handle when I got home. I didn't happen to have any chrome-looking type tape, so I used good ol' Scotch tape. Looks awful.

     Like I told him, "I'm fine." Saved a little time. So how about you? Are you really fine? What's going on behind your "fine?"

     A friend of mine once told me she stopped saying, "I'm fine." She stops what she's doing and says, "Do you really want to know?" That pretty much stops the conversation.

     If we all spilled our beans instead of glossing over them with an "I'm good. How are you?" the world would come to a standstill—at least for a day or two. So next time you see me, just tell me you're fine—unless you can spout out what's really going on in thirty seconds or less. Okay, forty.

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