There is a social grace, called SMALL TALK that is losing ground in our communication skills here in the U.S.. Perhaps it's my conservative upbringing or perhaps it's my two years indoctrination as a Southern Belle but I for one, am an advocate of small talk.
Small talk is important. It allows us to make small, un-intrusive channels of conversation that might, at some point in the future open up to greater openness and even friendship.
It also provides a correct and polite boundary when conversing with strangers and people one might not normally converse with
Let's start with some very basic, genteel small talk.
Person A: "Hi! How are you today?"
Person B: "I'm fine, how are you?"
Person A: "I'm great, thanks."
See, in this conversation, two people have just engaged in small talk. We don't know that Person A just spent two hours waiting on the locksmith or that Person B is on their way to visit someone in Hospice. It isn't germane. This isn't a deep conversation between intimates.
This is two people standing at the counter at McDonald's waiting on their to go orders to be handed out. This is a waiter and their customer. This is two people riding on the bus. It could even be the opening VOLLEY of a conversation between good friends, who simply aren't up to an in depth conversation due to the place or the timing.
When someone says they are "FINE" you don't COUNTER. This isn't sales, you aren't trying to force them into the cigar of the month club with a rebuttal. You do not say "Well we're all FINE but HOW ARE YOU REALLY? TELL ME YOUR FEELINGS."
Because frankly, people would stare at you like you were mad. Or, made uncomfortable they'd say "No really, I'm fine" and find their way AWAY from you. Quickly.
Small talk is a social grace and it's simply conversation for it's own sake. It's manners and it's frivolous but still, it never ceases to amaze me how people can screw it up.
Here is another great example. My child runs over and steals a french fry off your table. (Ok they never did this I just thought it up.) I extract the child and say to you,"I'm so sorry. He's Special."
The correct response from you is something understanding and forgiving, and heck I'd even accept annoyed but understanding. THE INCORRECT RESPONSE IS "Well they are all SPECIAL, aren't they?"
Special, my ignorant friend, is a term used for children/people who are disabled in some way, in case you have been living under a rock or in a cave, or cloistered in an abbey. See, your little smug retorte might seem witty or godly or whatever the hell you think it is.
But instead, you just bounced the ball back to my court. Rudely, at that.
I've got a new response, just for all you holier-than-thou-they're-all-special fucktards who have decided that this is going to be your answer. I'm pretty proud of it. I get this response, as does the husband, so much, that I determined that a witty/evil retort was in order.
Here is what I'm going to say to you.
"I don't know. Are they all autistic?"
Here are my five year olds having a cup in the backseat of my car for the first time in their lives. They're all special, aren't they?
My husband wants to start responding, "I don't know, do all five year olds wear diapers?"