Don’t say “How are you doing?” Again! 5 options to inspire your short story

I don’t know of a better strategy when people ask me how I’m doing.

I would say, “I’m fine thanks, how are you?” like a cog in the greased wheel of social graces that grinds on and on, grinding away the dust that gathers on the ruins of human connection?

Or should I say, “Indeed, I dream that my bones turn to liquid every night. I miss my mother so much that sometimes I cry.” The rice paddy leaves because it reminds me of it, so on 1-10 the scale for infectious diseases and the main threats that affect society is changed, like… a 6? What for you?” as a person without hatred for a long time is not good.

Honestly, at this point, none of these options work for me. The first makes me feel like a ghost in a shell, the second is boring, and not crazy enough or surprising enough to get up during another Wednesday Zoom meeting. As a community service, I’ve come up with a less awkward alternative to “How did you do?” to make your scary and stressful relationship with the world scary and stressful, more scary than ever—and, like, in a fun way.

For the guy who says work week platitudes like “Hump Day!” out loud in a way he thinks is funny, but in reality he’s reaching that age and level of character ossification where it’s not funny anymore:

To a co-worker who talks about really scary news like it’s E! A story because it is something physical or spiritual that has covered it from disaster but you are not there and you want it to end:

For the cute person you see walking your dog every day that you want to be friends with, but you don’t know how to break the ice:

For a manager who knows better than to smile at you but you can tell he really wants to:

For your friend who you have to hang out with sometimes and who could have been nice but now is kind of “meh”

A portrait by Lorenza Centi.