Sunday, November 16, 2008


When people haven't seen each other for a while, they usually ask "what's up?" if they're from Crenshaw mafia, "how do you do?" if they're from 19th century England, "how have you been?" if they're from 19th century England but don't want to face it, or simply "what have you been up to?" if they're just normal.

The problem is that in 90% of the cases, the answer will be "Well, nothing special" or "I'm fine", which is pure bore and a waste of words. Hence the following question: how to turn greetings into something utterly informative? The answer is: by changing the initial question, and moving from "what have you been up to?" to "what have you not been up to?"

To illustrate this, here is an example of a chat between two friends starting with this latter line. It's been recorded by CCTV in the London Tube, at Picadilly Station the 15/10/2008. I got the tape by asking my brother to screw a female employee of the company.

"Oh, Hello, Travis. It's been a while. What have you not been up to?
- Well, Ted, I haven't banged your wife, for a start. I could have the other evening when I met her in a pub, but I didn't. What about you?
- Well, I haven't learnt about that. So I haven't smashed your face with a baseball bat and I haven't stamped my feet on your 45£ suit. Anything else?
- I didn't find another job, I didn't fly to Sri Lanka and I didn't change my mind about never going there. I also haven't bought myself a new car because I haven't got the money to do so. I haven't tried to rob your apartment because I knew I couldn't find a way to unlock your door.
- Couldn't you? That's a shame. I haven't thought about that at all. Besides, I haven't learnt to use correctly the preterit and the perfect tense, which is okay because Sandra hasn't told me anything about that. She hasn't told me anything at all the last three months, when I think about it.
- Well, Ted, I've been glad to see you. I hope we'll find more time soon to catch up.
- All right then, Travis. So long."

A bit more lively, ain't it? Now, you know exactly what to do the next time you meet someone you really don't like but with whom you still want to be polite.

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