Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Nice to see you."

The first time I heard that phrase was from Oprah. She was the emcee for a Valentino charity fashion show in New York about 10 years ago; afterward, I was at the afterparty/launch of the Valentino boutique when I looked up from a cabinet of scarves and noticed that she was standing next to me.*

"So nice to see you," she said.

"Brilliant greeting. Just brilliant," I thought.

For the famous, it's perfect. It's a non-committal non starter. Not that it stopped me, my mother and my sister from chatting her up for 10 straight minutes, but still.

By the way, pictures do that woman no justice whatsoever. She's phenomenal.

About three years ago I was sitting down to a meeting with a former Washingtonian that's pretty internationally known. "So nice to see you," she said. And she had it down pat--the look that both directly meets your eye and kind of looks through you, the warm smile that makes you feel comfortable and looks perfect in photographs and is still a bit formal--a trained greeting from someone who has spent a good portion of their life meeting and greeting, from whom the public demands much, and much is given. So once again, acceptable.

And then. Then it kind of hit the masses.

"How nice to see you kiss left kiss right" (no three kisses--PLEASE) has become the greeting for one and all.

I kind of get it. Especially in this town, where it's all about the network, the meet, the greet.

But still.

Even when coming from us lessers, it's a non-committal non-starter. It's as if we can't be bothered to come up with something else, can't be bothered to think about whether or not we actually know this person in front of us, can't be bothered to take a risk.

And I get that it can save from a potentially embarrasing situation, get that it's a "one size fits all" type of greeting, that the conversation CAN be taken from there. But I miss the days when you could look in someone's eye and say "I'm sorry, you look so familiar. Where did we meet?" and it begat a whole new conversation. When someone put their neck out there a little bit to say, "I'm sorry, I don't believe we've met," and then engage. Or took the risk of "Hi, I'm BabsieD. We met at..." and sometimes, yes, you get the blank stare. Other times, it brings back memories and a flowing conversation from the outset.

What DOES one say after "Nice to see you," besides "Nice to see you as well *pregnant pause*"? It's just so...self-important, I guess.

Anyone have a better answer?

*There's a whole other half to this story that includes making a COMPLETE fool of myself in front of Valentino--yes, Valentino Garavani himself-- with a mint sprig, but that's for another day.

**Photo above: perhaps the most unflattering picture of me taken of ALL time (and before the age of digital cameras everywhere, so it's a bad scan of an okay picture).


Anonymous said...

no - "nice to see you" has always been polite 101. "nice to see you again" is a different story.

who cares? can you go back to reporting on events?

kris said...

nice to see you reminds me of generic church greetings on sunday mornings.

somehow, i can't recall what it is that i say in these sorts of situations.

i'm pretty sure it isn't "HOLLA!" but i could be wrong. :)

DC Celine said...

I say we start a movemment. Back to sticking your neck out. I vow to unabashedly - yet politely - introduce myself or ask where I've seen the next sorta unknown person I'm standing next to at a social event.

dccaf said...

Could I get your email address? I have a question about the venue of the DSS. I'm