I was once invited to sit in on a creative writing class conducted by a woman who writes children’s books. Everybody sat about chatting for a while until she was ready to start the class, when her opening remark was, “Let’s have a health bulletin first and get it out of the way.” Then, to my astonishment, she launched into a ten minute in-depth rant about her health problems, both real and imaginary. Even more astonishing was that the group seemed to think this was normal; apparently she made a practice of starting that way.
One of my own family members was such a person and would visit the doctor whenever she could find a pretext. To be fair, she didn’t have a very interesting life and this was her way of getting attention from a professional, no matter how cursory and superficial that might have been. She learned to maximise the exposure by arriving long before her appointment “so that she wouldn’t have to wait” and comparing notes with the other people in the waiting room. I imagine that she would have agreed that the definition of a boor is “somebody who wants to talk about their health when you want to talk about your health”.
One of my workmates was a Welshman who frequently became angry at the Australian attitude toward other people’s health. He simply didn’t understand the difference between a request for information and a rhetorical question. One of his favourite rants was, “Why do you Australians say, ‘How are you?’ when you obviously don’t want to know?” Perhaps it’s different in Wales—the land of my father—but it was probably just a personal quirk.
One of the poets—a very minor one, I’m sure—put it this way:
Don’t tell your friends about your indigestion:
“How are you?” is a greeting, not a question.