Plead the Fifth
What question do you hate to be asked? Why?
I don’t get asked questions much. Maybe I’ve just got that sort of face. You know the one: This dog bites.
I mean, I get the usual ones: How are you? (Fine, thanks.) Hot/cold/wet/dry today, isn’t it? (Certainly is!) Or if I’m obviously on my way back from the beach (wet and bedraggled with towel over one shoulder) How was the water? (which I answer truthfully, because why not?)
Otherwise… My friends and relations know the answers, and the one friend I’ve made here doesn’t know the questions, thanks to good management on my part.
But the questions that irritate me most are the ones you know full well are merely a jumping-off place for the monologue of choice on the tip of your questioner’s tongue.
Take the bird I hadn’t seen for a couple of years until she turned up on my doorstep a few days ago.
How have you been? she asks.
A bit patchy, I say. (Must have been feeling rebellious.)
Yes, well I had a hip replacement a few months ago, she says. And she’s off – a blow-by-blow description from finding a suitable surgeon onwards, through every up and down to the ultimate triumph, including bystanders’ comments. This is fine. At least it only requires me to smile and nod, although I must admit I did phase out for a minute or two when she progressed to reading aloud the preface from her husband’s latest self-published book.
I published online last year, I say (another moment of rebellion), and she looks blank before moving on to tell me about a friend (not mutual) who has Alzheimer’s.
My sister refers to these semi-interchanges as versations, on the basis that there’s no con (with) involved. We know our places, my sister and I. We listen. Doesn’t mean we don’t get bored, though. Particularly when the speaker launches (as they always do) into a long ramble about people we’ve never met, and from the sound of things, don’t wish to.