When dealing with the sort of every day interactions I outlined in the last post, there are options. Say you don't want to stonewall someone, but because of circumstances, it's not appropriate or feasible to really get into it at the time (you're at work, they're at work, you're late for something, etc) there are still ways to avoid the bland sameness of "fineness." Here are five responses to the "how are you/what's new" querie that tend to kickstart a friendly banter, let people know you like and appreciate their presence, without rabbit trailing too much.
1) "Well, I'm on the right side of the ground. Everything else is gravy!" Grabbed this from crusty old dudes at the bar. It works better delivered by crusty old dudes, but even saying it as a half-joke has a weird way of re-enforcing a wider perspective.
2) "Kickin' ass and takin' names." This seems like a joke, but depending where you put the goalposts, this can always be true. Perhaps the kicking ass was winning the Lottery and the names you took were those who high-fived you afterwards. Or maybe it was getting out of bed and making coffee.
3) "Livin' the dream, man, livin' the dream." No matter who you're speaking to, it is always appropriate to refer to them as "man" when one is living the dream.
4) "Well, I'm at work, so you know. But, I have a job, so, hey." This is obviously most effective when you're actually at work.
5) "My family just died in a fire and I had to watch the Arsonists laughing eyes as I helplessly struggled against the flames. Nightly I hear his ruthless cackling and all around me seems confirmation that John Calvin was right; and endless hell of predestined torture awaits us all, and I am only futiley counting down the hours until the Bat King flies off with my soul into is torment-cave. But there's a new Italian place down the way and I hear they have a good happy hour. We should check it out."