DEAR ABBY: Is there a polite response to the question, "How are you?" in situations when your life is horrible, but you would rather not talk about it (i.e., divorce)? -- DEVASTATED IN HIGHLAND, UTAH
DEAR DEVASTATED: If you would really prefer not to talk about "it," the response you should give is, "Fine, thanks -- and how are you?" This will deflect attention from yourself and onto the other person.
When you are ready to deal with follow-up questions, all you have to say is, "How am I? I've had better days!" And nine times out of 10 the person will pounce on the opening.