I got caught in a slightly awkward social situation the other day, when someone asked, “What’s new?”
That’s a big question for a Mighty Daily Journal employee. We’re supposed to be on top of the latest information that affects lives in Northeast Mississippi.
Most of my co-workers are in touch, but I’m in the Living Department for a reason. I’m much more interested in how Ray Maldonado makes a piñata than Tupelo City Council’s rules for its capital budget.
Robbie Ward writes about city issues, and I write about Maldonado, who will be the cover story for Sunday’s Living section.
But my problem remains: What should I say when someone says, “What’s new?”
Do they want a random fact about Maldonado? He makes his piñatas from old liquor boxes, which is pretty cool because he’s turning dull, adult-oriented trash into a colorful, kid’s party game.
But piñatas aren’t new, and at 61, neither is Maldonado.
I feel a lot of pressure to perform when I get the “What’s new?” question, and I can freeze up.
It’s not uncommon for a bunch of topics to clog my brain, so I stand there like a dullard as I reject one idea after another.
Should I mention how yesterday’s spaghetti is sitting?
Could I say how I experimented with parting my hair on the left side instead of the right, but no one noticed?
How about my true feelings on Arcade Fire’s new album?
On that last one, I’m an off-and-on fan of Arcade Fire, but I really want the latest album, probably because my wife can’t stand them. If she had no opinion, I doubt I’d care as much.
That brings up another problem with answering the “What’s new?” question: How personal should I get?
Maybe not all, but a certain amount of new things in my life aren’t approved for general conversation, like that way I … CENSORED, and how my wife … CENSORED.
Are you ever concerned someone will ask the question and you’ll blurt out that your bellybutton went from an inny to an outy overnight because it’s legitimately the most important thing on your mind in that moment?
I see two options.
First, I could flip the “What’s new?” back at people and say, “Not a whole heck-of-a-lot on this end. How are things with you, señorita (or señor, as the case may be)?”
Second, I could keep a reserve of ready-to-use facts to spout off.
Have you ever heard of Tooshlights? They’re LED displays over public bathroom stalls that glow green when empty. Funny what lands in your email box, isn’t it?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m over-thinking this.
I should probably just tell you about the guy I met with a piñata assembly line in his garage, but then what would we put in Sunday’s paper?
So what’s new with you?
M. Scott Morris is A Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.