Fat, Sleepy, and Broke
There’s a J.D. Salinger novel with a female character I’ve always admired. Frankly, I can’t remember which of his works this is even in, so my apologies for the vagueness.
The story’s narrator is a young man who, when first introducing himself to the young lady, is taken aback by the first words out of her mouth: “Tell me how your parents died.”
I’m an extrovert, so I don’t hate small talk as much as a lot of folks. Still, I love when people get to the meat of who we are in this game of life rather than just talking about the weather or sports. But, we all know small talk is a part of life and our social folkways and mores determine some of our interaction.
A few weeks ago, I was using my spiritual gift (eavesdropping) when a patient was checking in at a doctor’s office.
“Good morning, how are you today?” asked the front desk receptionist.
“Fat, sleepy and broke,” came his response.
I think we all know that when we ask, “How are you?” it’s just a pleasantry. If someone started to list off their joys and concerns, aches and pains and family problems, we’d think that’s TMI, right? It’s just small talk and we know the most common thing is to return with more small talk.
Yet, why would this guy come back with, “Fat, sleepy and broke?” My only thought is that he thought he was being witty. And maybe it was intended to make people stop and take a beat. But, it just came across weird.
And what’s worse is that if this IS part of his usual banter, well, will it become a self fulfilling prophecy? Like, the more he says this, the more likely he is to start to truly see himself in this way? My best guess would be yes.
The more we say something, the truer it gets…even if it’s truth is only reinforced in our own minds.