This past week, several of my looser acquaintances have confronted me with the ubiquitous beginning-of-fall-semester-question – How was your summer? It is this inquiry to which I will philosophically defer to Socratic dialogue by posing another similar question – why do you people keep asking me how my summer was?

I guess my annoyance is partly a result of not being in school for such a long time. Maybe I’m just not used to perfunctory questions given in passing tones that you ask while walking briskly by me. Or maybe you have forgotten the art of the rapid-fire personal exchange necessary to communicate in an undergraduate atmosphere. Maybe I just can’t remember all the heartaches and breaks and great sex that I’ve had while answering the question “what’s up?” Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the friendly hello and smile while strolling past someone you don’t really know that well. But don’t ask me questions unless you actually want an answer, which in most cases I doubt that you do.

The “How was your summer?” is that special greeting that only comes out fall semester to avoid awkwardness. I hate to shatter your tenuous existence, but I don’t give a damn about your summer and I know that you couldn’t give a damn about mine. If I don’t know you that well, your summer anecdotes will be readily forgotten, because you don’t really matter to me in the first place.

I just don’t see the value of a conversation about the past four months, if I’ve never had a good talk to you about the Hot Carl, Mung or the Cleveland Steamer. Sure, I’ll stand there and listen while you tell me the same story that you’ve told 50 other people this past week. But you’re starting to remind me of the chicken-salad-slash-Shania-Twain story that Jude Law’s character in “I Heart Huckabees” keeps repeating. I may nod my head and say things like “wow, that’s amazing” but I’m actually thinking about repeatedly stabbing myself in the heart la Elliot Smith.

If you ask, maybe I’ll even tell you how my summer went. But I’m not likely to say much beside the stuff that makes you think I’m a caring person – and the only reason I’m saying that is to get you into bed.

Rudolph can be reached at

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