The World's Worst Question

(Originally published 2 Dec 2013)

We've all been asked it.  You've probably heard it today.  Possibly even quite a few times by various people as you made your merry way through the day.  Chances are you've asked it of others (unless you're a right misery).  It's a question I hate to hear.  Not that there's anything fundamentally wrong with it.  It's quite a nice question for most, but I never know how to answer it.  Not truthfully anyway.  Sure I know what people want, even expect, to hear.  It's more rhetorical than anything, but nevertheless it has become part of our culture.  Those three little words, you know them..... "Where's my trousers?"  Sorry, no, not those ones, the other ones.....  "How are you?”

If you've asked that today, did you really want the answer or, like most people, did you just want to hear "Yeah, I'm OK."  Of course you did.  There's nothing wrong with that.  We all want to be ok, just as much as we want others to be.  It's not much to ask.  I always say I'm OK, however far from the truth it may be.  What else are you supposed to say.  Only those closest to you are going to know the truth anyway, whether you care to admit it or not.  I've always prided myself on being a good judge of people.  Being able to sense when there is a problem, even if they insist otherwise.  I can do it with family, with friends, seeing their actions or hearing their tone of voice.  But I also like to think I can mask it in me, that shield that stops others having that same window into my soul.  That window has long since needed replacing.  I still say I'm ok, but now it's more like we're learning our lines for a short play we all know the outcome of.   Ask it enough times though and I'll tell you  "You ok?"  "Yes, I'm fine."  Take 108

I remember during my time at my local mental emporium, I was sat in the grounds, it was around 7pm, it was raining (naturally), I was crying and shaking, when one of the nurses passed me.  She was just coming on shift and saw me there.  "Hi, are you alright?" she asked without stopping.  I looked up.  "Yes thanks" I replied.  Has an answer ever been so falsely represented as the truth?  Did I look OK?  Sitting there like a particularly sad-looking drowned rat.  Maybe I did look ok, cause she continued to walk in.  She had clearly not seen my play.  Even today when I see my therapist, I dread her asking the question as I walk in.  One benefit we both have, now we've got to know each other, is she knows me well enough to know I'm lying when I tell her I'm ok.