The Closer I Am To Fine

“There’s more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine”

-Indigo Girls

We hear it all the time… “I’m fine”. “No, it’s fine”.

Look up “fine” in the dictionary and there are over 10 different definitions. It’s a noun, a verb and an adjective. Four little letters, encompassing so much!

It could be a penalty. It could mean free from impurity. It could mean a very thin margin. My favorite is: “delicate, subtle, or sensitive in quality, perception, or discrimination”.

The definition we probably look for the most: “superior in kind, quality, or appearance”.

In my 40+ years I’ve learned one truth: fine is not fine. You don’t want to hear this word. You just don’t.

“Hey boss, what did you think of that report I submitted?” “Oh, it was fine. Thank you”.
He didn’t mean that it was superior in kind. He meant, “For what it was – it was satisfactory.”

When you ask to go out with the boys for a drink tomorrow night, you may hear “Oh, that’s fine”. She doesn’t mean that it’s a quality idea.

Now, this isn’t aimed at just your significant other, and not at all at my own wife (she’s really awesome at working out our schedule together to make things happen), but it’s a worldwide phenomenon. Mom did it. Girlfriends have done it. Your kids do it. WE do it, too.

Fine isn’t fine. Fine is the word we use when we just don’t want an argument. Fine is the phrase we go to that means “If you really have to, I’ll figure out how to make it work, but maybe there’s a better way to do this?”. There’s a fine line between fine and good. (See what I did there?)

Don’t get me started on “Whatever, it’s fine.” That’s like the TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU of “Fine”. Nothing good ever happens after those words are uttered.

So, how can we get past “fine”? How can we skip that gray area and land on either “No” or “Sure, that’s great”? I don’t know. Does anyone? But I can try to help.

Like I said before, my wife is great with finding ways to work together to make our lives outside the house, work. But it’s a two-way street. It’s about communication and continuously working on that (trust me, I’ve had to work a LOT on how I communicate – the path from late-30s single guy to family man, is one I tripped down for a while, and still do have an occasional stumble, but that’s a whole other story).

When it comes to being married with kids, what helps avoid “fine”? Here are some of my tips:

1. If you’re planning a night out with the boys – plan in advance.

Gone are the days when you can call up a buddy and head off to the local Chili’s for some boneless wings and idle chit-chat in an hour. The time you are with the family is important – so let them know that by planning your time away in advance. At my age, chances are the guys you’re going to hang out with have families by now and they’ll want to schedule ahead, too.

Shoot for ‘Quiet’ Times! Sure, you may be more tired than usual the next day, but how about putting off plans until the kids are in bed and asleep? Depending on the age of your kids, this could be in the 7:00pm-8:00pm window and then you head out. You can still get to Buffalo Wild Wings for the second half, last 2 periods, or late innings of the game. This way, you can be a part of the structure of bed time and then scoot out. Just remember when/where you are when you get home – don’t you dare slam that front door!

Think about the next day! Check the calendar. Does your partner or your family have big plans tomorrow? Don’t make going out make you tired, or them out of sync and ruin the next day.

2. Cooking? Stick with what you know.

For me, my cooking prowess is really stuck in two genres: breakfast and Mexican food. I make a mean taco dip, amazing nachos and burritos are nachos in a wrap – I got that. Tacos – yeah, everything comes in one box – it’s like a small version of Blue Apron!

Breakfast – it’s good for ANY time! BFD (breakfast for dinner) was a staple in my house growing up and remains a favorite for my wife and kids too. (We even had a BFD menu for our wedding!) Eggs, potatoes, bacon, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches – it’s really hard to mess these up. I’m not alone in this either – there are whole cookbooks about the BFD awesomeness (I like Lindsay Landis’ – link below).

If you are stretching and trying something new – use a recipe! My advice: put the word “easy” in your Google search. Finding “easy meatloaf” recipes will help even the least Gordon Ramsey of us.

As with most things in life – if you’re going to do something, stick to your strengths and do them really well. You’ll get yummy noises and “WOW THIS IS GREAT” comments. Much better than “oh, it was fine”.

3. Housework & Chores – YouTube it!

Unless you were born into a family of Mr. Fixits (or if you were and didn’t pay attention – like me), you may not know plumbing, electrical, mechanical and structural work. However – we are in the world of the internet! Someone else has figured out how to do whatever it is you’re looking to do – replace the gutters, remove the blades of your mower for sharpening, tile the bathroom floor, replace a headlight bulb, etc.

MOST of these things have been documented on YouTube for your assistance. I’ve used it often and I have 10 left thumbs (with a band-aid on each) when it comes to household repairs. My wife can watch a YouTube video and be an expert – I watch it 20 times and then still do a lot of hoping and praying. For me, when it comes to household repairs, I get it done, but I’m hoping to simply reach ‘fine’ status!

(If you ever want a first-person account of my rage on re-watching YouTube How-To videos, ask my wife to regale you of the night I spent in front of our bathroom mirror watching YouTube on my phone trying to learn how to tie a bow-tie. I was cursing in all kind of languages.)

Well, that’s all I got. Hopefully these can help you get closer to and then past “Fine”.

One last thought: keep this last definition (from the Urban Dictionary) in mind; “good looking or hot”.

When you go out with the “boys”, there’s no need to dress to impress. You don’t need to look FINE on your way out to door from your family to hang out with other people – save that for your partner and everything should work out just fine.

-KP

Featured Products in this story:

Breakfast for Dinner: Recipes for Frittata Florentine, Huevos Rancheros, Sunny-Side-Up Burgers, and More!
by Lindsay Landis (Author), Taylor Hackbarth (Author)

(Mind of the Modern Man did not receive any promotional consideration for this story)

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