If someone greets you with more than a cheery “Hi,” it likely may be in the form of a question, such as “How are you today?” Most of us have a quick word ready: GOOD; FINE.

I knew a friend who always responded to that question with HAPPY. It never failed to make me stop and feel grateful too. Another friend, whom I would see often at the grocery store, responded with I’M STILL ABLE TO TAKE NOURISHMENT! I thought that was quite appropriate terminology since she was the wife of a doctor in town.

As we get older, we come back with smarty answers sometimes: I’M UP! or O.K. AS FAR AS I KNOW. ALL RIGHT, spoken slowly with a drop at the end, bears the hint that the person wants to tell you more. If you have time, you allow him or her the opportunity.

I recall my mother’s saying when I was sickly that I looked PEAKED--two syllables, with accent on the first. I looked in Webster’s dictionary to be sure that was not her own made-up word. It’s there, meaning looking pale and wan.

Incidentally, the dictionary tells us that the word originated in 1835, the year of the devastating cholera epidemic. No doubt it was repeated enough to earn a permanent place in accepted vocabulary, as one-fourth of Russellville’s population died of the disease.

But back to a lighter treatment of our topic--

I grew up hearing fun phrases that had no standard meaning, but we enjoyed using them to describe “how we were.” FINE AS FROG HAIR was one; FIT AS A FIDDLE another. SICK AS A DOG got deepest sympathy. If our state of health was not the best, we said that we were FAIR TO MIDDLING. — We probably said MIDDLIN’. On the other hand, if we were in good spirits and feeling energetic, our response to “How are you?” might have been PRETTY PEART.

My mother said I was PUNY if I had a slight fever and she could not put her finger on the cause of my lack of usual energy.

My father’s description of his feeling less than best was YAY-YAY. (I have no idea how to spell the way he said it, but I can still hear him.) “I feel YAY-YAY this morning” indicated that he would likely opt for doing lighter chores that day if that were possible. If he said he was UNDER THE WEATHER, he was just plain sick.