At a Chamber of Commerce meeting Rob Moore asked me the social question, "How you doing?" I gave him my pat answer "Wonderful, wonderful." Since Rob actually knows me better than that, he followed-up with "So, how are you really doing?"
There are a lot of folks who have seen me when my body was something less than as good as a fellow might like -- I mean like really, really not as good as a fellow might like. And "How are you doing" is always hard to know what to answer. Sometimes people are just being social and really don't expect anything beyond, "Fine, how are you?" Some (medical types in particular) tend to overreact if you say too much. And almost everyone on earth wants a man of a certain age to rush to the hospital whenever the advice can be responsibly given, "Just to check it out."
The local hospitals always want you to describe pain on a scale of 1 to 10 (which under some circumstances can be harder than it sounds). So, thought I might lay out my own 1 to 10 scale of how I'm doing --1 being as-good-as-it-gets and 10 being the worst day I'd care to be having:
|#1||WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL! This is what I most often answer, particularly if I really am feeling pretty good. The expression comes from an old friend who went by "JW". When asked what JW stood for he'd say, "Just Wonderful." I got to telling folks: JW is just wonderful; but I'm wonderful, wonderful.|
|#2||REAL GOOD, THANK YOU. Somehow I always seem to flunk those social awareness tests. I know I'm supposed to say, "Fine, how are you?" But I never seem to think that fast. Don't be offended; it's just that folks who know me better ask how I'm doing so often.|
|#3||I'VE BEEN BETTER, BUT I'VE BEEN A LOT WORSE. This is my answer to people who know me well enough to see I'm something less than #2. Often these folks have already seen something in how I'm responding to cause concern.|
|#4||NOT AS GOOD AS I'M PRETENDING. Don't often actually give this answer unless I know you fairly well. When I do it it's because I'm feeling symptoms only someone who knows me would understand.|
|#5||NOT GOOD (AS IN, THIS IS REALLY GETTING BAD).|
|#6||NOT BAD (AS IN, NOT AS BAD AS IT'S GOING TO GET). By this point even the most casual observer knows something is amiss. Having been though all this nonsense more than once, history says it can get worse if I don't stop and wait it out.|
|#7||WHAT DAY IS IT (Sometimes rendered "WHAT TIME IS IT?"). This is more of a commentary on how often I've been feeling this bad.|
|#8||SOMETHING IS WRONG. This is about as far as I go, what with having had some bad experiences in apparent self-diagnosis. Based on what I've been though before and the things I was told then, I know something is wrong. But nobody pays me the big bucks to say what that "wrong" is.|
|#9||WHERE AM I? If this answer is only one tendered, proceed to #10|
|#10||YES, CALL 9-1-1.|
In an abbreviated form I printed my list out on 2-by-3 cards. Next time I see Rob Moore I'm just going to give him a number.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.