Today’s rant is dedicated to the word ‘fine’.
Yes, such a small thing. Four letters. But the meaning has evolved so much in a few decades.
There was once a time where men dressed up in crisp suits and women dressed up in feminine gowns. Sitting upright at tables, soft Beethoven tunes playing in the background. Playing cards, sipping coffee, smoking cigars. Back then, when a woman walked into the room, the men would rise from their seats. The questions asked were, “you look well, dear lady. How have you been?”
And the girl would bow slightly, smile delicately and say, “I have been just FINE, good sir.”
Back then, fine meant great. Fine meant the person was alive and well.
My dilemma cropped up when a friend of mine, possessing perhaps the last degree of chivalry possible in men, asked me how I’d been. And I answered, fine, thank you.
And honest to death, his next question was “why are you being mean? Did I do anything wrong?”
I was too stumped to respond. I had just answered his question with a proper sentence and the man thought I was mad at him for something.
It got me thinking about this word. And I realized it wasn’t the poor bastard’s fault. The word had a demented meaning now. It had evolved a long time ago.
Now, if you ask a girl “what’s up, you okay?” and she says, “I’m fine.” It probably means she’s planning your murder.
The transition is complete and I never realized when that happened. I could’ve sworn just a couple of years ago, when we said “I’m fine” friends would be satisfied and move on with the banter.
Now, try saying “I’m fine” and not being bombarded with questions. Silly ones, at that.
Are you okay?
Why are you upset?
Why are you pissed?
Did I do anything?
Did anyone say anything to you?
Is it him again? Your boyfriend?
What did he do?
It is next to impossible to interpret the meaning of the word and catch up with the insanity.
Sometimes I feel I have been imported from the 16th century.
I still expect men to open doors for me or pull chairs for me. I still expect them to insist to drop me home, even if I don’t want them to. The intention matters.