Hello World. How are you?
February 11, 2011 3:10 AM   Subscribe

I run into people I know and they say "Hello, how are you?" and I say "Fine". This is getting boring. I understand that there really isn't a question-answer thing happening, but I want something more interesting than "Fine". What else could I say?

Partly cloudy with a chance of sunshine. Peachy! As well as can be expected. I'm swell. It could be worse. Jim Dandy! Like a newborn colt, eager to gallop across a plain of dried sage brush.

I've tried all of these (except the last one, which I just made up) but haven't found much better than "Fine".
posted by twoleftfeet to Human Relations (120 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
"No complaints here." "Could be worse." "I'm alive." "Solid." "Better, now that I've run into you."
posted by knile at 3:13 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

My usual responses are "splendid", "wonderful" and "lovely".
posted by hasna at 3:20 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Ah, it's yourself!"
posted by my face your at 3:26 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by mippy at 3:29 AM on February 11, 2011

I'm super! Smashing! Great! Never been better! I'm groovy! I'm awesome! Tip-top! All the better for seeing you.
posted by jonesor at 3:29 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Fine, thank you. How are you?"
posted by tel3path at 3:29 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Fantastic.. with varying emphasis.. FAN...task..TIC, and such. alt.: Fabulous

"Happy to be here."

"Living the dream."
posted by rich at 3:30 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

I tend to go with "awesome, how're you?" (or lately, "it's over forty degrees and I'm dripping sweat on the damn floor, how do you think I am, hmmm?") and possibly a short explanation of why my day is awesome. "Awesome, I just made the perfect reverse park and I'm never moving my car again", "awesome, I just ate my own weight in fries" and so forth. All that being said, I'm now going to use "living the dream". Thanks rich!
posted by jaynewould at 3:39 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Better, now that I've run into you."

That would kind of make my day if it was said sincerely :)
posted by jaynewould at 3:40 AM on February 11, 2011 [7 favorites]

Say "fine", then ask "so what are you most excited about these days?" or some variant, and genuinely listen to the answers. Boredom dispelled!
posted by estlin at 3:42 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I usually say "I'm groovin as always, you?" if I'm having a good day or "I've been worse, how about you" if I'm not...
posted by johnn at 3:46 AM on February 11, 2011

Here are some I've heard recently:

"Peachy keen!" (with faux perky smile), "Fair to middlin'," "Hangin' in there," "Livin' the dream" (with a world-weary smirk).
posted by amyms at 3:46 AM on February 11, 2011

Couldn't be bettah, old boy
Absolutely rip-roaring, what

(I think, though, that tel3path has the answer. Bounce it back)
posted by Namlit at 3:58 AM on February 11, 2011

I like to say, "So far, so good!" with a bright smile or a wink. It always seems to make people smile. Or sometimes just, "Life is good!" I'd be tempted to use some of the more colorful expressions above, but I would most likely be met with a blank stare and a muttered, "Weirdo" if I said "like a newborn colt" or some variation thereof. Keep it nice and simple for the less richly-vocabulated would be my advice.
posted by Gator at 4:06 AM on February 11, 2011

If I'm less than "good," I usually say "oh, you know" in a friendly what-can-ya-do tone.

If you want a follow-up question, my mom's a big fan of "What's new, what's different?"
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:10 AM on February 11, 2011

Also see this thread for some good ones. (including my favorite)
posted by Redhush at 4:11 AM on February 11, 2011

Och it's a sair fecht for a half loaf (it's a hard life)
Like a drookit rat (I've just come in from the rain)
Fair tae middlin
Ach, it's aw a richt guddle (things are not going well)

(to provide a bit of counterpoint to Namlit's English observations)
posted by KirkpatrickMac at 4:14 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"surviving", "not so bad" and "ug" seem to be my standards.

But I'm English, so a born pessimist.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 4:15 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Groovy." (I actually said that once when asked at the beginning of a job interview. The panel all had a good laugh and it seemed to break the tension. Didn't get the job though.)
posted by govtdrone at 4:16 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"I'm having a blessed day!", accent on the second syllable of "blessed" ("bless-ED", not "blest") is annoyingly perky.
posted by orthogonality at 4:19 AM on February 11, 2011

During Pinochet's dictatorship we'd say 'Can't complain', because we, in fact, were not allowed to complain.
posted by signal at 4:22 AM on February 11, 2011 [28 favorites]

"Bloodied but unbowed".
posted by brownrd at 4:23 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I used to work with a guy who'd say "bearing up under the constant pressure and strain".
posted by biscotti at 4:25 AM on February 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

"I'm doing good, but I'll get better!" (courtesy of Thom Hartmann)
posted by Goofyy at 4:25 AM on February 11, 2011

Very well, quite well, or doing well + thanks you. Never 'good" or any combination of good--a daily commitment to proper grammar.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:28 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Given the alternatives, life is great!
posted by hworth at 4:32 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Mustn't grumble.
posted by jontyjago at 4:33 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

"oh just swell!" "peachy" and then, some kind of indicator of my actual state: "indecisive" at people behind restaurant counters, "curious" is a good general one, "impatient", "concerned about what my hair is doing honestly!", and sometimes "complacent, you?"
posted by Mizu at 4:35 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by hegemone at 4:55 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

or whatever the appropriate letter grade might be at the time.
posted by safetyfork at 4:56 AM on February 11, 2011

My favourite that i've heard was "Fit as a dancing bear!"
posted by ukdanae at 4:58 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a few standard responses, depending on how things are actually going.

"Busy, you?"
"Yeah, pretty good thanks. How are you?"
"Not bad, not bad thanks. How are you?"
"Terrible actually, but hey, you know. How are you doing?"

Really, why hide it if you're having a bad day? I mean, don't dump on the person, because strangers and colleagues don't want to hear about your problems. And talking about your problems is a terrible way to start a conversation even with friends. But still, no need to fake it! If you do answer negatively, make sure to clearly turn the focus onto the other person and what they are up to, so that they don't feel like you are guilting them into talking about anything. Smile and focus on them.

Also, please, please, always answer the question. I know a few people who respond to "How are you?" with simply "Thank you! How are you?" and it is soooo weird.

Anyway, I get the feeling from your post that these exchanges are maybe never leading to an interesting conversation, and these short weird exchanges are getting on your nerves. I think all you need to do is throw in a few more syllables. Some "you know"s, some "actually"s, and some "yeah, well"s. Then it starts to feel like you are willing to actually converse with the person. And you will also feel like you are getting some variety. But again, be honest with your mood. Great, good, fine, not bad, so so, busy, terrible. They are all acceptable answers!
posted by molecicco at 5:05 AM on February 11, 2011

The difficult part of this one for me is that people will often ask me how I am as we walk past one another. Not people I know well enough to stop and talk to, just people who live in the same building or some such. But I think, though I could be wrong, that these people want me to express interest in them as well as just say "fine" or whatever. But there isn't TIME as we walk by each other for any kind of exchange. This is a particular pleasantry I kind of loathe, because I cannot quite figure out the rules on it. Clearly, the relative stranger is not interested in how I *actually* am. So since the whole interaction is a formality, a greeting and not a real question, not knowing quite what to do with it is pretty awkward.

In cases where people are actually asking at all, as when I run into a friend on the street but we don't have much time to chat, I will say something like "...um, present" if I am not in fact doing fine and don't feel like faking it, or much like discussing it. It's my "don't say anything at all". I am also fond of "oh, you know." On the other hand, when things are going well, I find it's the intonation that makes a response of "I'm okay" or "I'm doing gloriously" more entertaining. I just say them with great certainty, and a smile.
posted by Because at 5:10 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"If I was doing any better, I'd have to be twins."

I have no idea why I like this one so much.
posted by shiny blue object at 5:11 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Chillin', chillin'."
posted by box at 5:13 AM on February 11, 2011

"livin' the dream"
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:14 AM on February 11, 2011

I make a point to not ask this question unless I really want to know! You can say the ol Dave Ramsey line "better than I deserve"
posted by sadieglass at 5:19 AM on February 11, 2011

I say "Great!" even when I don't particularly feel like it. People really seem to like it. I think it makes many people who ask happy to hear that someone is doing great. Since the question (from these people) is not a true inquiry anyway, I lose nothing by being positive even in the face of mild despair.
posted by OmieWise at 5:19 AM on February 11, 2011

Look around and look down at the ground. Then say "Well, I'm on the right side of the dirt."
posted by Brodiggitty at 5:24 AM on February 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Tearin' away like a tinkers shirt.
posted by therubettes at 5:25 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If I were a bell I'd be ringing.
posted by h00py at 5:36 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're in the middle of a bunch of stuff, you can have a lot of fun with "Busier than a...." response, e.g.: Busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

I have a small collection of similar witticisms and they're loads of laughs. For me, anyway.
posted by jquinby at 5:43 AM on February 11, 2011

I like "still breathin' in and out" on bad days and "Out-STANDing!"on good days.
posted by FormerMermaid at 5:44 AM on February 11, 2011

I often say, "Nifty."

Some people don't even blink, but often others do a double take and say, "Nifty?" right before starting to chuckle. Sometimes it's followed by an, "I love that word!"

Like you, I was looking for a unique word in response to the "How are you?" question, and the only time I could remember "Nifty" being said with any regularity was as a kid when Bert would use it as a happy exclamation on Sesame Street. Seemed to fit the bill.
posted by Rewind at 5:49 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

To regular conactees, I usually say "sleepy," because I usually am.

At the reference desk, I often say "peachy," although I have no idea why.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:52 AM on February 11, 2011

"Rockin' "

"Fair to middling"

"Stellar, dude. Absolutely ethereal."

"I've been better"

"Drunk on life, man."


Come on. The possibilities are endless!
posted by Decani at 5:56 AM on February 11, 2011

"Close to spectacular."

BTW, everyone knows that all responses (whether "fine" or "great" or whatever) are meaningless, which makes them boring. If you want interesting, how about responding to the question by starting a conversation?

E.g., "I still can't believe the Packers beat my Steelers in the Super Bowl. Hey, can you believe how bad the halftime show was?" Or, "Freezing. Didn't the groundhog say spring was on the way?"
posted by J. Wilson at 5:57 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Fair to partly groovy.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:00 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's a George Carlin skit about this that I'm not finding online quickly.

The only line I remember is, "Bullshit, hair is fine."
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:14 AM on February 11, 2011

Where I work, there's a security guard who I pass every day. When asked "how are you?" he always responds, "I'm doing well, thank you." I always remark how sincere it sounds.
posted by Miko at 6:20 AM on February 11, 2011

I really need the toilet. Can I use your bag?

I'm fine Johnathon. If that is your real name.
posted by dougrayrankin at 6:21 AM on February 11, 2011

Awesome. (not Awesome! just say Awesome.)
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:22 AM on February 11, 2011

Many of the older men in my neighborhood respond with:

"Alright, ok..." (drawn out).
posted by anya32 at 6:22 AM on February 11, 2011

The Dude Abides.
posted by dougrayrankin at 6:23 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

My favorites these days:
Just ducky
posted by browse at 6:25 AM on February 11, 2011

posted by Classic Diner at 6:28 AM on February 11, 2011

I just do this and then nobody ever asks again.
posted by rokusan at 6:29 AM on February 11, 2011

"Fine" is just the carrier wave. It's all in how you say it.
posted by amtho at 6:30 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

"How's it going Mr. Peterson?"
"It's a dog eat dog world, Woody and I'm wearing Milk Bone underwear.

or any of Norm's entrances.
posted by Gungho at 6:34 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

"Vertical, functioning and caffienated".
posted by LN at 6:37 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

all conditions nominal (like for a spacecraft)

maybe you could sound confused and turn whatever you say in to a question. Fine?

I usually say, "I'm okay" with varying inflection. if I'm. happier, "pretty good!"

I like nifty and groovy too.
posted by bleary at 6:44 AM on February 11, 2011

"Comme ci comme ça..."
posted by mazola at 6:52 AM on February 11, 2011

One of my co-workers always says "Any day above ground is a good one!"
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:56 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I work with a guy who always answers, with great gusto, "Te-RIFF-ic." Brings a smile to my face every time.
posted by bassjump at 7:11 AM on February 11, 2011

"I'm not unwell, thank you"
posted by rocket88 at 7:18 AM on February 11, 2011

A buddy of mine used to say "If I was doing any better, I'd have to have my smile surgically removed!"

Always made me laugh.
posted by elendil71 at 7:19 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


(From which I've adopted "I'm not unwell, yourself?" and "All the better for your asking!")
posted by Jonathan Harford at 7:22 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

If I'm feeling good, I say "Actually, really well!" with a healthy shot of sincerity. If not, I say "Enh, been better, been worse." Which if you think about it really covers every moment in your whole life except two.
posted by KathrynT at 7:31 AM on February 11, 2011

Very well, quite well, or doing well + thanks you. Never 'good" or any combination of good--a daily commitment to proper grammar.

If somebody asks, "How are you doing?" I stick with the "doing well"-type responses. But if they just say, "How are you?" I like to go with "I'm good," simply because it's still grammatically correct. "Good" is not meant as an adverb, but an adjective. I am a good person. I'm sure nobody gets it, but it gives me a little internal chuckle to think of other adjectives I could have used at that moment. I'm smart. I'm gassy. I'm ahead of schedule. I'm sunburned. They didn't ask how I'm doing, they asked how I am.
posted by vytae at 7:34 AM on February 11, 2011

The point is not to say anything that requires actual thought. This exchange is basically the human equivalent of modem handshaking tones.

So if you're going to deliberately break that, it doesn't really matter what you say and you may as well just go totally off the deep end. Perhaps pretend you thought they said "who" are you instead, and suddenly get overly concerned.

"Why it's me, twoleftfeet! Don't you recognize me Bob? Are you feeling okay? How many fingers am I holding up?" Then shout "For God's sake, will someone call an ambulance!" or something like that.

A couple days of doing this consistently, and I rather suspect your problem will be solved for you.
posted by Naberius at 7:38 AM on February 11, 2011

In most situations I have realized that this is not a sincere question, but only a way of saying hello. I had a business acquaintance that always replied with "Really good!" or "Great" or "Fantastic"... and I realized it had an effect on the way I perceived him. Somewhere in the back of my mind I came to think.. wow.. he's really doing well.

So I have adopted this approach, especially in work. Oddly, I have found if I answer with an "I'm doing great!" it has a little impact on me too.. even if I'm not having such a great day.

Conversely, I've known a few people who always answer with a "Uh.. alright" or a "Gettin' by" or an insincere "Living the dream"... and this too affects how I perceive them.

Of course the exception to this is when someone close is really asking "How are you?".
posted by ecorrocio at 7:43 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Even when I'm having a crappy day I say "spectacular!" without sarcasm (unusual for me) because I've found it breaks the monotony of "fine" they're expecting and usually leads to a better conversation. Which leads to me actually feeling a little better.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 7:47 AM on February 11, 2011

"Fine thanks. Who are you?"

-- Groucho said it, a long time ago.
posted by Rash at 8:02 AM on February 11, 2011

I usually just say how I actually am feeling ("Great!" "I'm okay!" "Eh... all right I guess", "Hanging in there", "Too cold!") but for me the point is to get that out briefly and move right on to say "and how are you?" or "how you doin'?" Since most people do mean it as a polite, verbal handshake, making a showy deal out of it with a big witty response or a random silliness seems a little selfish and possibly off-putting, to me. The other person might be left feeling a little thick-witted they can't come up with a quick funny back at you since they weren't expecting it, or you might leave them hanging there without giving them a chance to reciprocate how they are too and thus complete the ritual.
posted by flex at 8:11 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

There was a guy working at the coffee shop that said, "Capital." Also, he had a curly mustache.
posted by The Dutchman at 8:15 AM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I find "simply delightful" suffices for any time I am not, you know, caught in a bear trap or anything similar.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:25 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Tolerable," or "Outstanding." You hear the latter a lot from military folks.
posted by illenion at 8:30 AM on February 11, 2011

"Just ducky!" (obviously).

I used to work in retail and got to experiment with different responses all the time. Crowd-pleasers included

"I'm tickled pink, thanks!" and "I'm just tickety-boo!"

My standard response is "I'm well, thanks. Yourself?"
posted by just_ducky at 8:33 AM on February 11, 2011

Someone once said "just right" - I still laugh when I think of it. He said it in a kind of '70s porn sleazy way (not intended?), but was my favorite answer of all time.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 8:44 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

besides the usual 'good...and yourself ?', I've used

splendid, dandy, better by the minute, high on life, chipper.

in a self-deprecating mood, running on empty, spent,

When I've used ''all right' others respond to me in a conciliatory, 'sorry you had a bad day' attitude.
posted by fizzix at 8:59 AM on February 11, 2011

i always reply with overworked and underfucked, but you know, i have odd friends
posted by PinkMoose at 9:15 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Plugging away" is my go-to answer.
posted by superlibby at 9:23 AM on February 11, 2011

"I'm well, thank you. How are you?"

"Just peachy, thanks."


"Super dooper pooper scooper!"

"Fabulous. How about you?"

"Can't complain. How about you?"

Each answer depends how my mood at the time of being asked.
posted by Lynsey at 9:34 AM on February 11, 2011

So you and other folks have already acknowledged that "How are you?" isn't a literal question, but lemme go on and overthink that point some more, because I think there's some interesting stuff going on.

What you're dealing with here has to do with low-level flow control — coordinating who has the floor, whose turn it is to react, making sure everyone's attention is in the same direction, etcetera. This is what the "modem handshake" analogy is getting at, but I think a better analogy if you're into the technical stuff would be the transport layer in an IP stack. Unlike a modem handshake, this turn-taking coordination isn't just something you do once and get it over with. It's ongoing throughout the entire course of a conversation: while you're consciously exchanging information, there's another layer of signaling just below the surface, made up of intonation and gestures and grunts and nods, that ensures that all the turn-taking stuff is in order. A lot of people aren't really consciously aware of the transport layer in a conversation — they just send and receive the right flow-control signals out of habit — but some people are consciously aware of it, and anyone can be aware of it if they pay attention.

If the transport layer breaks down, you have to do something to repair it, or else the meaningful communication that goes on at the higher layer won't be able to get through. When there's an Awkward Pause in a conversation, and nobody's said anything recognizably offensive or baffling, it's usually a sign that something's gone wrong at the transport layer. This means you can sort of reverse-engineer how the transport layer works by looking for things that trigger awkward pauses.

One of the things you discover, if you look at it this way, is that questions really have at least two functions. On the surface, at the level of literal communication, they're requests for information. But at the next layer down, the transport layer — at the level of flow control and turn-taking — they're a way of handing over control to another participant. If you ask someone a question and pause, it's now Their Turn. They don't have to answer the question directly; in fact, they don't have to answer it at all. But they do have to take their turn — or at least actively pass on their turn, by shrugging or shaking their head or saying "Dunno" or whatever — or else you get one of those dreadful awkward pauses that signal a transport layer error.

When someone says "Hey, how are you?" you're getting two flow-control signals in quick succession. They're requesting your attention (that's what "Hey" does), and then immediately signaling that it's your turn (by asking a question). And in this case, the flow-control signals are more important than the literal content. They might just as well have said "Bob! How's it hanging?" or "Yo! 'Sup?" or "Ahoy! What-ho?" or "Zoinks! Wibbity flurby?"*

If you wanted to translate it into literal terms, the message would be something like this: "Pay attention to me! Okay, but I don't really have an important message for you. I just want to have a real quick conversation. And to make sure I'm not imposing on you or boring you, I'm gonna let you pick a topic. Ok? So... your turn!" And once it's your turn... well, you're not required to answer their question, but you have to make some kind of conversational move. "Good to see you" would work. "Dude, did you see that thing on TV?" or "How's your NAME_OF_HOBBY?" or any other meaningful-but-not-prying question would work. A very short joke would work. (Taking too long on your own turn is another kind of transport layer error; don't do that.) You could tell a quick story about something interesting that's happened to you recently. You could even meet their implicit request for a short conversation by requesting a longer one: "Hey, you got a minute? Let's go get some coffee, I've got something I wanted to ask you" — though this sort of thing might get turned down, and anyway you shouldn't do it too often.

Or you could pass. And here's the thing: a lot of people, when they say "How are you," will take a short direct answer — "Fine" or "Can't complain" or "Awesome" or "Not dead yet" or whatever — as a pass. So, tl;dr, I suspect that switching it up from "Fine" to some fancy synonym for "Fine" isn't gonna help much. If you say "Nifty!" instead, it might get a chuckle, but a lot of people will still treat it as a way of passing on your turn. If you want to have a more interesting conversation, it would be better to use some other strategy that sends the right flow-control signal back at them: "Sure, I'll take my turn! Blah blah blah blah blah... Okay, your turn!"

Replying with an even-slightly-meaningful question ("Cold enough for you?" "How 'bout that local sports team?") is one way of doing this. The literal content of the question sets a topic for the conversation. But just as importantly, the sheer fact that it is a question sends an unmistakable "Okay, your turn!" signal, assuring the other person that you want them to take the floor again and tell you what's on their mind.

*Fun game: you can start a conversation with someone by just grunting with the same falling-rising-falling intonation that "Hey, how are you?" has. When you do that, you're just communicating on the transport layer — ATTENTION! QUESTION? — and not sending any actual content at all. But on the transport layer, in terms of pure flow control, it works: you get their attention, you let them know that it's Their Turn, and so without really even thinking about it they'll make some kind of throwaway conversational move in return.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:48 AM on February 11, 2011 [18 favorites]

How are you?

"I'm doing well, and you?"

How was your day?"

"It was a day much like many others, yet unlike any other..."

i'm weird
posted by Debaser626 at 9:48 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

A friend of my always answered "Fantastic". "Fan-tastic."

He was happy-go-lucky and had a great demeanour.

I copied that a few years ago and I suggest you do the same. It's fantastic.
posted by nickrussell at 9:51 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Better than you.
posted by dougrayrankin at 9:52 AM on February 11, 2011

In the voice of the god for whom the Mortal Kombat arena combatants fight for his amusal: "Outstanding!"

In the voice of Bill or Ted from their big adventure (with a bit of surfer head-bob) "Excellent!"

With the exaggerated hand gestures of a 30's serials English adventurer "Quite all right old chap! How about yourself?"

And so on. Not in a mocking way, in a life is sunny and ripe with fun and games sort of way.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:01 AM on February 11, 2011

Fine, thanks.
Fine, thanks. Yourself?
posted by klarck at 10:49 AM on February 11, 2011

My grandfather used to answer, "Shouldn't happen to a dog!" Caution: best employed by grumpy old men who want to avoid a conversation.
posted by equipoise at 11:05 AM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Blessed and highly favored!" From Victoria Moran, a life/health coach, who in one of her talks describes encountering this from her most positive friend. The friend also ended conversations by saying "Have your best day ever!" Moran says she at first reacted skeptically, like most of us would. Then she reflected on her life, and how she really had a lot of good going on in it, and thought to herself, "Well...I have a lot to be thankful for, so why not? And why couldn't today be my best day ever?"

I use these only with a few select people, with whom I've explained the above context. Otherwise I'd probably risk getting punched out. I sure as hell don't use them with my friend who's been recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:10 AM on February 11, 2011

Don't tell you friend about your indigestion,
'How are you' is a greeting, not a question.

But you already knew that.
posted by NatalieMac at 11:22 AM on February 11, 2011

I often say "Never been better". Some people take it sarcastically, most are unsure how to take it, but it usually gets their attention.
posted by tymenagain at 11:25 AM on February 11, 2011

Does anyone reply with a heavy, but fake accent that the other person doesn't understand?

A friend of mine who lived in Australia for a few years, used to say "Chomping, mate" in a very thick Australian accent - no one understood it (judging by their expression). Only a few ever asked him what he said :D
posted by theobserver at 11:29 AM on February 11, 2011

Chipper.... Yourself?
posted by MT at 12:07 PM on February 11, 2011

Extremely average, thanks.
posted by krunk at 12:11 PM on February 11, 2011

Today, as I was carrying in groceries, our mail lady was gingerly making her way across the icy/snowy/slushy street. When she got to the sidewalk, she stopped to stomp her boots, and I said "Hi, how's it going?" She answered "Oh, I'm just taking things one step at a time" with a smile and a wink.
posted by amyms at 12:24 PM on February 11, 2011

My standard answer is "Better than I deserve."
posted by cross_impact at 1:04 PM on February 11, 2011

"Able to sit up and take a little nourishment. How about you?"
"Well, you know, you got through life..."
posted by SLC Mom at 1:05 PM on February 11, 2011

GO through life. GO.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:06 PM on February 11, 2011

I've recently started saying "fighting a hard battle" in my cheeriest voice. That might work for you.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:13 PM on February 11, 2011

It also depends on who's asking. If someone said, "overworked, underfucked" - I would want them to be my new best friend because they are obviously awesome.

However, "Super dooper pooper scooper!" would be the last thing they ever said to me.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 1:36 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"I haven't decided yet."
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:06 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Not bad for a Thursday."
posted by bendy at 3:35 PM on February 11, 2011

Here's the Carlin skit I mentioned earlier. (NSFW)
posted by Confess, Fletch at 3:43 PM on February 11, 2011

I like "excellent." especially if you say it like Monty Burns.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 3:45 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by Cheminatrix at 4:13 PM on February 11, 2011

Fine and dandy like grandpa's candy.
posted by ian1977 at 4:32 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know a guy who says this:

Q: How's it going?

A: It has to.
posted by ian1977 at 4:33 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am Blessed! (I have a dear friend and this is always her reply.)
posted by sandyp at 4:35 PM on February 11, 2011

My canned reply? "Oh, you know, keeping America safe for democracy..."
posted by Capt.DooDooFace at 4:54 PM on February 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

It has to
Ah yes, that's the North German
"wie geht's?" "Och, muscha." [Och, es muss ja]
"How's it going" "Well, it must"
posted by Namlit at 5:15 PM on February 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've always been fond of George Carlin's "I'm moderately neato."
posted by scody at 5:33 PM on February 11, 2011

rmhsinc: "Very well, quite well, or doing well + thanks you. Never 'good" or any combination of good--a daily commitment to proper grammar."

The Grammar Girl says that "good" is acceptable. I had a haughty lady come through my line when I was a cashier and pull the whole "well" bit on me, and it just made her look rude, not more educated. I think Miss Manners would frown on trying to correct another person's grammar when you've just asked how they are today.

Rewind: "I often say, "Nifty." "

That reminded me of X the Owl from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, who often said "nifty galifty."

If it's an informal situation, my standard is "peachy keen jellybean." One that I got from a friend was to then ask "how are you, shmoo?" I don't know where shmoo came from, but for her it was a term of endearment.

Regarding what nebulawindphone was saying, I find it puzzling that the world asks "how are you" and doesn't really want to know, or doesn't care, how you are. It seems kind of rude to me, to ask how you are and then not give a hoot. After all, as Thoreau said, "The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked what I thought, and attended to my answer."
posted by IndigoRain at 10:13 PM on February 11, 2011

oh I forgot about "spiffy"
posted by bleary at 4:43 AM on February 12, 2011

Indigogirl: After further research you are right. I will continue to use "well" as it is most consistent with other uses of "well" and "good". BTW, I would never correct some one else"s grammar unless there is an agreement to do so. I must admit--"good" just does not go down well for me as a response to "how are you". It just seems clumsy, a bit sloppy and confusing with the other uses of good and well. Well, have a good day and I hope things go well for you.
posted by rmhsinc at 8:59 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

You as well
posted by gypseefire at 5:13 AM on February 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just following your lead
You got it all
Not as good as you
I really couldn't be better
Everything is chicken but the gravy ( bermudian expression )
Safe ( another bermudian reply )
posted by jasondigitized at 5:58 AM on February 13, 2011

Oh, I also like saying 'I'm as merry as a gadfly' in a pretty deadpan voice.
posted by h00py at 4:30 AM on February 14, 2011

Très bien
Très bitchen'
Totally bitchen'
I'm doing well, how about you?
Sehr Gut.
I'm fine, how are you?
I have a pain in all the diodes on my left side, I've asked to have it fixed but nobody ever listens, oh God I'm so depressed.
Whats it to ya?
Who wants to know?
Fuck off.
posted by Reverend John at 9:25 AM on February 14, 2011

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