A friend of mine who attends her church on a fairly regular basis missed a few weeks in a row. When she returned, one of the “church ladies” greeted her with: “I haven’t seen you lately!” Of course, the “church lady” meant she hadn’t seen my friend lately at church, and that was a cause for concern.
“I haven’t seen you lately” might include the following thoughts:
• First, let’s assume the best. This greeting might be intended to communicate the fact that my friend was genuinely missed, and that her return was warmly welcomed. However, “I am glad to see you. How are you?” might avoid the extra helping of guilt and innuendo present in “I haven’t seen you lately.”
• On the other hand, religion places a high premium on attendance in a particular building located on a specific piece of real estate at a regular, recurring time. Given the resulting guilt that can affect someone who misses a few services, “I haven’t seen you lately” might actually mean “Where the hell have you been?”