Morning, how are you?
Not too bad thanks, how's yourself?
Oh, you know, hanging on in there...
...and so on and so forth, ad nauseum, ad infinitum, and other such latin phrases. Or, as well we know, how to commit to expressing absolutely nothing - at least in a verbal sense - about how one is actually feeling.
Sometimes of course, it's a case of time and place: it would be awkward or inconvenient all round, in certain situations, to express anything more meaningful, honest or open than the above, ultimately coded language.
Other times, it's more a case of habit, politeness, unwillingness, whatever.
Well, I grew bored with that.
Morning trousers, how are you?
Brutalized. How's yourself?
Fine, thanks...what? Brutalized?
- after which there may be a frown, a pause, a laugh, or all three. Or all four if you can't count. There may also be further questions: brutalized? Really?
It just happens to be one of my favourite words, and I decided I would rather use it than come out with something which says absolutely nothing, at least nothing in a direct sense. It does seem to throw people off guard a little, not that my intention is to make anyone feel awkward - but one would hardly expect such an answer to an everyday question: said casually, according to the context of the conversation, it does admittedly tend to jar a little.
It just seems a little more honest sometimes, to say something so obviously, preposterously over the top, in such a context - it does at least have the potential to invite further discussion. In the end it can also serve to put people at ease, when the result is that it's clear that we've opened up a space in which we don't have to follow the usual codes. Namely those codes which allow us to make a habit of ultimately saying nothing with any real meaning.
Of course, I don't really mean that I'm brutalized: the prospect that I might throw such a word into the first conversational greeting of the morning as though I've got the thousand-yard stare thanks to all those inhuman scenes of suffering, mayhem and brutality that I've seen first-hand in some zone of combat, is ever-so-slightly far-fetched. It's not hard though to go from such silly extremes, to somewhere much more reasonable on that particular spectrum, namely what genuine stresses, annoyances or worries may be on one's mind (if indeed such is the case).
It also served as its own form of coded language when things were at their most Kafkaesque, masking certain realities with a veil of humour.
Certain individuals now respond to me in kind, which I think is brilliant - there's an understanding there - but I wonder if it's already reaching the point of having come full circle: brutalized being a convenient shorthand for avoiding any commitment towards expressing anything in particular.