“Good afternoon” is obsolete. “Good day” is how fancy people dismiss each other on television (emphasis on day). “Goodnight” still works, I guess, for a trailing, slightly formal goodbye after dark, though to use “good evening” as a greeting, assuming you’re not standing behind the hostess station, you need to make it ironic or melodic, give it some wink-wink, or else you sound like somebody answering the phone for room service.
And yet “good morning” persists. I love it, I use it unreservedly. Walks around the neighborhood. Exchanges in a park. “Good morning” has a sort of powerful nostalgia for a world I’m not sure I’ve seen, but I like to imagine – a way of recognizing each other in a brief enclosure that suggests optimism, a brightness. I find it often surprises people in a good way. Nothing much is expected – as compared to “how’s it going” or “how you doing” – but the other person almost always says “good morning” in return. As though suddenly we’re about an inch closer from being perfect strangers. “Good morning” says, whether events will turn out to be good or not, the day isn’t over yet, there’s still time for something nice.
What the what? A weekly newsletter by Rosecrans Baldwin of (very) short essays about things he finds beautiful. Rosecrans’s next book, Everything Now, is now available for preorder. Most books mentioned in the newsletter are on a list at Bookshop.org.