I wrote this monologue last year for a performance with YouthQuake. It’s about the word ‘fine’ and all the incredibly negative connotations and meanings it has – mainly it’s about the fact I use it far too regularly when I mean it very rarely.
a person sat, speaking directly to the audience.
Not really sure how I feel to be honest
I wouldn’t say good yet, but not that bad.
Not psycho but not sane. Just, fine. Fine. Yeah. (Beat)
But you don’t really accept ‘fine’ do you? ‘
Fine’ is code for, ‘not fine’.
Because what actually is the definition of ‘fine‘? A word I use more than my own name on most days and the more I think about it the more I don’t really know.
A mixture of good and bad to the point it’s balanced out and your emotions are running on a flat cloud of fineness.
Fine. Fine, fine, fine. And I’ve said it too many times now to the point it doesn’t sound like a real word anymore. And that’s just so fucking metaphorical in itself, you say a word enough times sometimes it loses its meaning. Because if someone was actually feeling how they want people to think they are when they say they’re fine, they would say that. Surely? I’m great, I’m feeling so happy today, feeling fan-fucking-tastic. But no we hear the word ‘fine’ – which has about as much happy connotations as the colour beige – and usually think nothing of it. It’s bland. Meaningless. Something to hide behind.
So why use it? Why fake ‘fineness’ every time someone asks? It’s a stupid trait that’s been drilled into me and countless other people and we don’t even realise it. ‘Don’t show your emotions’, ‘Leave your problems at the door’, ‘No one wants to know’ etc etc, the quote list is endless, and so what? We do?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make out I have some personal vendetta against the word ‘fine’, that’s absolutely not my argument. Like, if someone is asking about the weather on a cloudy day, ‘fine’ is a perfectly good word to use. But when someone says they’re fine and people have these little feelings in their head, because everyone does, that feeling of ‘oh, you don’t seem fine’, why is just ok then? Why isn’t something said, or done or hinted at even.
I suppose you could put it down to the every man worrying for himself meets the overly polite set of individuals we appear to live among these days, who mostly seem to not really care until it’s someone famous or influential. And even then it lasts all of 3 days until it’s replaced by the next bit of news.
(beat) Maybe think about it this way, if I had a broken leg and was about to run a marathon and before taking off said, ‘don’t worry I’m fine’ you’d think I was fucking crazy. You’d say I’d lost my head. Just think about it. But If I was struggling with something emotional and told you ‘don’t worry, I’m fine’ you’d think, ‘god, what a trooper, they’re so strong’ The only difference is the first option is visual, unavoidable. The second you have to pay attention to notice, and people really aren’t looking close enough nowadays.
– Ella Biddlecombe