Monday, July 30, 2012

I’m alright. You alright?

In college I lived in a dorm for two and a half years. It was an older dorm with locker room style bathrooms. We had a janitor named Willie. Willie always said, “I’m alright. You alright”? It didn’t matter what you said. You could say hello, how are you, what’s up, good morning, or whatever. Willie always answered with “I’m alright. You alright?” What Willie really was saying was “I don’t want to talk.” He was giving a thoughtless, automatic answer because he just wanted to get on with whatever he was getting on.

Which brings me to the word “okay.” Other than instances when okay means yes, when “okay” is the answer to a question what it really means is “not good.” It doesn’t necessarily mean bad, although it could, but it never actually means okay.

How was the movie? It was okay.
How was dinner? It was okay.
How was last night’s sex? It was okay.
You are saying you didn’t much like it, but more importantly you are also saying you don’t want to talk about it. “Okay” is a conversation ender, or at least a topic ender.

Similarly, the word “fine” means “not bad,” and also means you don’t want to talk about it.

How was the movie? It was fine.
How was dinner? It was fine.
How was sex last night? It was fine.

Fine is not bad and is better than okay which is not good.

Within a relationship the more often you hear or say “okay” and “fine” then the worse off your relationship. The use of these words thwart intimacy; they are roadblocks, or diversions.
When asked how I am, my response is usually “great.” I generally don’t say fine. I might say okay, which of course means I am not okay but don’t want to talk about it. On occasion I might be better than great.

How was Dark Knight Rises? It was good.
How was dinner? It was fine.
How was sex last night? How very generous of you to assume I have a sex life because I assume you mean sex with another person which I did not have last night but in answer to your question sex last night was okay.

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