--John Douceur, Bellevue, Wash.
Prudie is not anti-semantic. Au contraire, she is so devoted to language, as it appears are you, that it pains her to hear empty phrases bruited about. However, your point is taken that well-meaning pleasantries should be accepted for what they are, and Prudie's New Year's resolution is to chill when it comes to banalities. How's that?
As for "Have a nice day," it has the same ring of sincerity as the robot-voiced "Your call is important to us, please continue to hold."
Approaching an acquaintance I haven't seen in a while I often say, "Nice to see you" (which is true). The reply, "Nice to see you, too," can be completed quickly, sparing each of us the awkward head-swiveling to which "How are you?" "Fine ... how are you?" often leads.
--Calculating in California
Do you know what Prudie is thinking? Prudie is thinking your idea is stellar. Let's both make an effort to say this in '99 and see if we can make any headway with the "Have-a-nice-day" and "How-are-you?" crowd.