How does one ever really answer that question?
No. That’s not what they want to hear.
They don’t want to know what it is going to cost you to appear before them right now.
They don’t need to know.
It won’t change them, won’t help improve their day or their lives in anyway, and it won’t do any thing for you either.
So you smile tightly and dissemble or avoid it all together.
And yet, the question is still there.
It could hang there all day between you, waiting for a response, for release and relief.
A politeness given and received.
A desire for neutral common ground, to connect and relate with another acquaintance. Someone who lies just beyond stranger, but not, and possibly never, friend.
The sentence is uttered thoughtlessly, commonly, empty, un-expectant, meaningless in its usual banality.
Unless it is given, ad nauseam, to someone who feels its line of enquiry like a scalpel slicing into expectant flesh.
You know it’s coming.
It’s painful and leaves a precise wound that the recipient must wear along with the other, matching, scares, all coming in rapid succession from other unwary wielders of the question.
So, how are you? you look well.
Oxford English Thesaurus: a chronic illness: persistent, long-standing, long-term, constantly recurring; incurable; rare immedicable. ANTONYMS acute.