If you’re at an event where politeness is considered a sign of weakness, such as the 40th college reunion I attended a couple of years ago, people might be a tad more blunt. For example, a dear fraternity brother friend saw me and blurted out, “Holy mackerel, Dunnster. You look like you died a few months ago!” In reply, I smiled and said, “It’s great to see you, too, Goober. Sorry I missed your funeral.” Then we embraced in a long hug, genuinely delighted to see each other after so many years.
To give you an example, I have many close relatives who I normally see multiple times each year: Easter, 4th of July and Labor Day picnics, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But I haven’t seen them since Christmas of 2019. Also, in my sales/marketing job, there are at least 200 people I used to see in-person at least once per month, and in some cases once per week. Now, I’ve seen very few of them face-to-face (or more accurately, mask-to-mask) in over a year.
So, I think it’s safe to say many of these folks look a little different compared to the last time I saw them. Especially when you add in a couple of other annoying realities caused by this pandemic: quarantine snacking and limited access to hair salons and barbershops.
To be perfectly honest, the reason I’ve been thinking about this is because my stupid iPhone suddenly displayed a photo the other day, which it labeled “Memories.” It was a picture of me at a trade show in Florida in early 2020, and I didn’t recognize myself at first. Then I compared that photo with one taken of me just the other day. I looked at the recent snapshot and muttered, “Holy mackerel, Dunnster. You look like you died a few months ago!”
If and when this pandemic comes to an end and we finally can see our friends and acquaintances face-to-face, I’m sure I will be polite and say, “Wow! You haven’t changed a bit!” even if that’s not exactly my first thought.
However, if the situation does not require politeness, I might employ that old Fenway Park strategy: the best defense is a good offense. If I happen to say to someone, “Holy mackerel, you look like you died!” it means I love them very much but I’m just trying to beat them to the punch.