Fine. Just fine.
Sylvia: Why do we say that? We all do. “How are you?” “Fine. You?” “Fine.” “How’s the family?” “Fine.” “Work?” “Fine.” Seriously, what is fine?
Erma: God, you are cranky sometimes, Sylvia. Fine is,well, fine. It’s okay. Fine means the status quo is being maintained. If everything is fine, there’s nothing to worry about, I guess. Why do you ask?
Sylvia: It bothers me. Fine is such an empty response, and I rather believe that nothing is fine. We all hide behind fine because we don’t want others to know how not fine we really are.
Erma: Well, I don’t think we hide behind it. I think we use it because it’s quick, easy, and serves the purpose of providing a response to a question that most people ask merely out of politeness. Think about it. Does the clerk at the checkout at Safeway truly care how my day is going? Does the plumber, who rings my doorbell at 8 a.m. knowing that I have called his answering service in the middle of the night with just the right amount of histrionics to warrant being moved up to his first call of the day, does he truly want to listen to how unfine I really am? No, of course not. Cases-in-point of simple niceties, Sylvia.
Sylvia: That’s just it, Erma. I’m kind of over simple niceties. I don’t want to hear one more. Wait. Let me amend that to say that I despise hearing that reply from someone who is close to me. I will no longer placate those who claim to care for me with a simple fine. And to boot, if I ask you- someone whom I trust, care about, and see fit to spend inordinate amounts of time with on a regular basis, know that my expectation exceeds niceties. Give me all you’ve got- for better or worse. I can take it. Actually, I expect nothing other than the truth, raw and honest, even brutal, given that we are friends, family, on the cusp of, or in the midst of a meaningful relationship.
Erma: Oh my God, okay, enough, I get it. You don’t like fine. You don’t want fine. Nix “fine” and bring on…bring on what?
Sylvia: Bring it on. Whoever you are, whatever you feel, give it to me straight. Our friendship can handle it. The world can handle it.
Erma: And what if the world can’t. What if I can’t?
Sylvia: Then, fuck it. REMEMBER? I told you a while back that most of life can be summed up in a word or two.