Just when you think your day couldn’t get any worse, you bump into someone you know and have to actually explain it. Gabriel Olaer explores these social niceties on a whole new level.

Sometimes the hardest questions to answer aren’t in tests, job interviews or courtrooms. Instead, we seem to encounter them almost every day. In saying this, questions are vital to keep a conversation going, but “GUESS WHAT?!” some questions should just be banned.

“How are you?”

“Good, thanks… How are you?”

“Yeah, great! Thanks, you?”

“Yeah, good! … Wait, we’re in a loop.”

When people ask me these questions, do they really want to know how I am doing or is this just a new version of hello? If not, is it an attempt to keep the conversation going? Let’s give it another shot, but with a variety this time.

“Hello, what’s new?”

“Good, thanks.”

Geez, can we just stop this now. It’s just making it more awkward.

A common conundrum is when you bump into a curious friend who finds the need to unearth everything – especially if you’re seen with a ‘new’ friend. “Where did you guys meet?” is most likely the inevitable follow up after the polite introductions. “Why is it even your business, friend?” Most days, I feel like saying, “We were detained at the cop shop together last Friday.” Or, maybe something classier such as, “We work together in that escort service gig I was telling you about last week.” But usually, it’s the safe, “a common friend” or “uni” response. But lately, “Facebook” is a popular one, because it is the tame version of Tinder, or eHarmony or Zoosk or Grindr.

For friends who happen to have more cultural sense, they often prefer to ask that new friend, “So, like… what are you?” I’ve been that new friend and I’ve been asked that too much. I stop for a second and have a deep existential crisis. I question the meaning of life, recover from my zone out and go back to the main question, “What am I?” Then, I refrain from yelling out, “Well, I like to think myself as a human. Are you not?” Instead, I resort to stating the demonym of my country of origin. I’m guessing it’s the more normal thing to do.

A lot of times, I get asked, “How come you speak so good English?” Being educated is not an appropriate response. Often you have to come up with an epic tale of how the English language is the superior language and that it rules the world, and if you want to be part of the world, you must speak this sacred tongue.

Getting to know a person better by taking more interest in them is a great social skill, and one way to do this is to ask them, “Where are you from?” But, most of the time when I state my suburb, they don’t seem satisfied as they say, “Oh no, but like, where are you from?” This is tough because I shouldn’t tell them about my secret mission, my home planet wouldn’t want me to be divulging my special task here on earth. I’m just getting sick of these questions. But, feel free to ask me again…

After surviving the tragedies of these interrogations, I get confronted with yet another great philosophical query, “So where do you want to go?” I’ve programmed myself with this automatic response, “Anywhere… I’m not fussed.” But then it so happens they’ve also been programmed to say, “Me too, anywhere is good.”

I’m not sure about most people, but I have a friend who acts like Oprah, always asking me, “How’s your love life?” I like to dismiss this by saying, “non-existent”, but at the same time, it would stop the flow of life. They want you to ask them the question back. Really, they should just cut the cake, just spill the jellybeans, and stop making me feel bad about my lonely nights and table-for-1 moments.

Why is life so full of such hard questions? Even that question is pretty hard to answer. I’m not quite sure why I find questions a bit confronting. Although, I think I ask too many questions myself. The best question is not the one that involves a man kneeling before his partner with an onion in a ring box or the deeper ones such as, “Is Jesus Black?”

My favourite, like most would still be, “Any questions?” Translation… this lecture is over, and I’m a free, educated man. Well, get your answers right and stay in school kids! You should know better, I know, right?

Words by Gabriel Olaer

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