AGING: How am I? You don't really want to know

Those of you who watch "60 Minutes" are no doubt familiar with Andy Rooney; he concludes the program by offering popular, often humorous commentary about the ridiculous things a good many of us do in our everyday lives. I don't think he has touch...

Those of you who watch "60 Minutes" are no doubt familiar with Andy Rooney; he concludes the program by offering popular, often humorous commentary about the ridiculous things a good many of us do in our everyday lives. I don't think he has touched on one that I have wondered about for some time now.

Have you ever seriously considered the greeting, quite common now, "How are you?" It seems to have taken the place of "Hello" or "Good morning." It would make some sense if it was from one friend to another after time has passed since their last meeting. But it happens every day with people that meet in passing. And it would make some sense if one of the two has been sick or experienced some kind of problem. But for the great majority of folks using the greeting, "How are you?" makes no sense at all to me.

Why? Questioners don't really want to know anything about the health or good fortune of the person they are greeting. They, under ordinary circumstances, don't have or want to take the time to hear any such report.

What if the answer was, "Funny you should ask, I just got a written report back on the tests taken in my recent physical exam. Some of the names, numbers and percentages are new to me; let's both sit down over here so you can read them before we discuss them to determine how I really am." The questioner would soon remember some important time demand, making the invitation impossible. And I'll bet they change their greeting the next time you meet.

I have developed a stock answer to that question from casual acquaintances, "I'm as good as I can be and I'll bet you are too." That startles and then registers for a few that are listening for an answer, or for another no real meaning statement. Most nod and/or smile and continue their train of thought before my questionable interruption.


One other behavior that puzzles me is when I see folks kissing their dog on the mouth. I understand it better when it is a small child (a natural sign of love with an immature child), but even then it bothers me a little. You may think I'm weird to be puzzled, but when I see dogs out in the yard sniffing or rooting through some excrement, those two behaviors seem a bit incongruous. I recall an incident when my first wife's aunt had friends arrive from Chicago with a dog that they took to bed with them (in bed, not on the bed). As my old Uncle Charlie would have said, "That takes the cake and one helluva lot of nerve."

Another practice that bothers some folks although I think it has become a quite common practice; some people give a human name to some object animal or inanimate. They may refer to "Bill" or "Sarah" that causes you to shift your gaze hither and yon looking for another person. Probably the reason it doesn't seem odd to me is my youth, long, long ago, on a hardscrabble Depression dairy farm.

Some of our animals had been named and I'll never forget our two horses, Prince and Barney. But I have heard comments from folks, usually young ones, who wonder if that old codger is getting a little queer because he talks to the animals by name as if they were a real human being.

Humor, I hope

Speaking of dogs earlier reminded me of an incident when three youngsters gave some real analytical thought to one on a fire truck. The neighborhood kids were on the front lawn when a fire truck zoomed past with the mascot sitting on the front seat. The children began discussing the dog's duties in connection with the fire truck.

"They use him to keep the crowd back at a fire," a five year old girl said.

"No," said another. "They carry him for good luck."

A six-year-old boy brought the argument to a halt.


"They use the dog, he announced firmly, "to find the fireplug."

My grandson, Dan Hughes, is attending Ohio State University training to be a veterinarian. He is also working in a pet hospital and the cost for the animals' services is definitely increasing. I note that money is a favorite topic with friends of mine. Three of them recently expressed their feelings about money:

One said, "I found out there's only one thing you can get without money -- sick."

Another said, "It's hard to be happy. I saw a book the other day titled "How to be Happy Without Money." The book cost $25.

But the one that I like best said, "Some people think the most important thing in life is money. It's not true. Love is the most important thing in life. Personally, I'm very fortunate because I love money."

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D., is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at .

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