The Truth is definitely the way to go. When people ask me "how are you?" if it's been raining I reply "wet", if I'm late, I say "late", etc., only in those cases where I'm truly feeling superb do I answer as such.

If you say things like that that are only partly off the wall and if you say them pleasantly and bemusedly, then it usually prevents stagnated small talk along with not making the other person feel like an idiot for asking. And in general making someone feel like an idiot who has taken the time to find out about your day is generally a bad idea. Unless, perhaps, you just don't like the person, or are in a particularly bad mood, but personally, I think it's -always- a bad idea to make a person feel stupid for asking how you're doing.

But, there's also something else you can do; I was just thinking about this Saturday. Every time that you meet someone whom you care something about you should attempt to do two things:

  1. Exchange at least one piece of valuable information.
  2. Discuss when you can next meet each other.
The benefit of the first point is that you spread knowledge of something that's important to you. In my case, it might be something about GE foods or veganism or nuclear power plants. This is important in a day and age where all forms of media are largely controlled by corporations. We have no way of knowing if the news we receive are lies or part-truths. The best way of taking care of this is talking to one another. Plain and simple.

The benefit of the second point is, if it's truly someone you want to see again, to make it happen. So many times I've not seen a friend for extended periods of time though living in the same city simply because we didn't say, "so, whatcha' doin' next Saturday?". I don't know if it's so in other cultures, but I can vouch for (my part of) America and Germany, that not asking about the next meeting will usually end in only very tentative plans, "I'll call you", but if you take the initiative and ask, "What are you doing tonight?" then the person sees that you are truly interested and something'll come of it. Everyone likes to receive positive feedback even after years of friendship.

Now go forth and communicate.