I know it's essential to human communication to perform alot of the little rituals we do, but I can't help being annoyed with it. I have been experimenting lately with giving new answers to tired old ritualistic "smiley questions", as I've termed them. I would expect others have come across this frustration and have some rather good ideas for responses. If you do I would love to see them. So you understand where I'm coming from here's an example of a "smiley question" conversation in action.

Hi. How are you?
I'm good. How about you?
Oh, doing fine. What've you been up to?
Nothin' much. How about you?
Oh, nothin' at all. Just workin', ya know?
Whew, I hear ya. Where ya workin' now?
I'm at (insert customer service job here.) How about you?

Needless to say this could go on for at least 15 minutes. How's so and so blah blah and blah. It's kept up till there's one subject to grasp onto and talk in earnest about. I hate this, so I was thinking something along the lines of...

Hey! How are you?
Oh, well, I just got diagnosed with AIDS and my dog died. Plus the cancerous tumor they found in my brain yesterday is growing at an alarming rate. The doctors said I'm going to make history!! I'm pretty excited actually. How about you?

Maybe this is a little excessive but at least the questions would stop right there. The conversation would definitely either end, or go in a really intersting direction. Another idea...

Where are you working?
The morgue. It's kinda lonely, but the dead people have started to talk to me. They've told me all sorts of stuff about what it's like on the other side and how I should think about bringing a friend and I to join them. They're actually very talkative for corpses and the odd thing is their mouths don't move. It's like they talk in your head. I work real late and have the keys, so if you ever want to come and visit you're welcome. I could show you how to cut up a body and all sorts of neat uses for the different parts. Then we could go party with them like they asked.

Who knows how a person would react to that if you kept a straight face while saying it. The trick is to act like you're talking about your new bank job or something very normal. I'm banning "smiley questions" from my everyday language and planning to answer people with off the wall responses from now on. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas I'd love to see them. It's always nice to make life a little more interesting.