Phil and a bearPhil's Albert Einstein

by Phil

Phil is to the left, Albert is to the right. The two pictures are presented for comparison purposes for, as you will soon see, Phil is a genius. He really is. This is why Phil's Osophy should be your Osophy. But enough of this already. Here's Phil:

Greetings! Welcome to the first edition of Phil's Osophy. I Am Phil.

At this point, some of you are saying to yourselves, "Waitaminit! What was that thing I saw in this space before about interstate highways? Wasn't that the first edition of Phil's Osophy?"

Well, technically, no. That was some random babbling by me, Phil, transcribed by Matt and put in as a space holder because I had missed the deadline to submit my column.

At this point, you may be asking a number of questions, such as these:

What was that random babbling all about? What was it for?

It's a long story which I will probably explain another time. For now, consider yourself lucky.

Aren't all Phil's Osophy columns just some random babbling by you?

As odd as it may seem, no. This column is very precise babbling by me.


Yes. Randy Shandis, despite his amiable demeanor, runs this operation with an iron fist.

Why did you miss the deadline, Phil?

For the obvious reason: I'm a lazy bastard. If you have other questions, you can e-mail me by clicking here.

So, as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, Greetings! That's the topic for this Phil's Osophy. How do you greet people? What question do you ask them? Is it one of these:

How ya doin'?
How's it going?
How's it hangin'?

or one of these:

What are you doing?
What's up?
What's going on?
What's new?

If you ask a question in the first group, the How group all is well. If you chose the What group then I must urgently and emphatically ask you to stop. The reason is this: With a How question, you can always answer, "fine," and be done with it. "Fine" is always a fine answer. However, with
a question like "What's new?" one can only answer with either, "Oh, not much," or else come up with something that's new right on the spur of the moment.

Some people put on even greater pressure with a question like "What's new and exciting?" Now you have to come up with something that's both new and exciting. If you've got new shoes, you can't just say, "My shoes," because they aren't exciting. No matter how great a pair of shoes
may be, they can never be called exciting.

A commercial may call their semi-annual blow-out shoe sale, "Exciting," but they're lying. Shoes are good, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against shoes, but they aren't exciting. And neither are shoe sales, and neither is anything that must be described with the term, "blow-out."

And it isn't good enough to come up with two things, one of which is new, and the other of which is exciting. It has to be one thing which is both. Again, "um, nothing," is usually your only recourse. This problem is perhaps best illustrated with the question, "What have you been up to?" Of course, you can always lie, but the very act of lying will trigger in the back of your mind the knowledge of the fact that the only truthful answer is, "Well, I go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch a
little TV...hmmm...I thought I was leading a full and happy life until you came along and made me analyze it! Why I'll kill you! I'll burn down your house and blow up your place of business! I'll ram anyone who drives the same kind of car as you off the road! Then I'll kill myself, but not before I've left evidence that incriminates your mother and the CIA!"

Let's all face the fact that when most of us ask, "How are you?" We don't really want to know. We just want the person to acknowledge our presence by saying, "Fine." Then we can move on and talk about what we really wanted to talk about, such as borrowing money, getting laid, or why it took so long to write the column.

In those instances where we really want to know how the person is, we never use those stock questions like the ones I listed above; we ask much more specific questions:

Are they going to press charges?
Did you get a job yet?
Are you sure you're feeling alright?
Is that a loaded gun in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

The next question is of course: How do you answer these greetings questions? There are, as you can deduce, two parts to this question: How do you answer How questions, and how do you answer What questions? Answers to What questions were described above. To How questions, do you answer with one of these:

Pretty good.
Not bad.
Can't complain.

Or do you actually provide a detailed answer? It's always nice to have a complete status report ready. My advice is: give detailed answers to the What questions only. That way, people will eventually learn not to ask them. Give short, vague answers to the How questions, but try not to use
the stock ones above. Use something like one of these:

Pretty good so far, but it could change at any moment.
(pause and stroke your chin as if truly evaluating the question, "
exactly is it hanging?" and then answer) Fine.
Better than you.

It will make you seem much more interesting, even if you have no life and nothing interesting to say, ever. I don't really have an ending for this column. All I can think of is to ask, What do you say when leaving? Do you say one of these:

See ya.
Have a good one.

or something else? Pick one you like and consider it said to you by me now.

Next time at Phil's Osophy: Bodily Fluids.

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