FEW statements uttered by a girlfriend put you on edge like the festering ambiguity of ‘I’m fine’. Here are the seven levels of panic you’ll experience when you hear these words.
Level one: vague uncertainty
Your girlfriend has just informed you that she’s fine, but the tone of her voice seemed imperceptibly different to other times. It’s probably nothing. She said she was fine, didn’t she? Didn’t she? The seeds of paranoia are sown.
Level two: mild uncomfortableness
Although she said she was fine, you feel a little strange. But she must be okay because she’s said nothing since. If there was a problem you’d know, wouldn’t you? Or are you an emotionless robot who misses obvious human feelings? Fret about this for a while.
Level three: nagging trepidation
Something’s wrong. You asked again and your girlfriend said she was fine again. But in an ever-so-slightly higher pitch. You’re no Sherlock Holmes but this feels like the time when you cracked an inappropriate joke to her parents and they said it was fine. Bestiality jokes are all wrong during Christmas dinner, with hindsight. Oh shit!
Level four: palpable distress
You’ve definitely done something wrong. But what? You’ve stopped drinking milk from the carton, you clean the toilet seat when you remember, and you now close your dressing gown properly when outside. What could possibly be wrong? Think! Think!
Level five: arse-clenching anxiety
Maybe it’s something you haven’t done? You haven’t forgotten her birthday because she reminded you every day for a month before, and that was… well, it’s certainly not been a year. Could it be one of those fabricated ‘two years since our first kiss’ anniversaries? Are you supposed to be taking her out? Who the f**k knows? Just ask if she’s fine. No, don’t. But do.
Level six: petrified nervous turmoil
She told you she’s fine again, but with no eye contact and an even more subtle rising inflection. You’re utterly f**ked. Does she want kids? Is that it? Tell her you can have seven kids, starting this afternoon. No, get a grip.
Level seven: all-consuming paranoia
Your heart’s pounding like a jackhammer and you’re projectile sweating. As you collapse into a full-blown emotional meltdown you ask your girlfriend one more time. Mercifully she responds with: ‘I will be fine when you stop f**king asking.’ So, like a dick you ask again, just to be sure.