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Still trying to parse the meaning of 'fine'

After walking through the minefield known as Valentine’s Day, I can breathe freely until 2020.

I know what is expected of me for all the other holidays, but I have yet to unlock the February 14th door of understanding.

The countdown and celebration of New Year’s have barely passed when the onslaught and confusion begins. A TV commercial shows a beautiful, sensual woman draped all over some average bozo because “he went to Jared.” Competing for my money is an equally glamorous woman swooning over another average guy because “each kiss begins with Kay.”

Spring is not yet here, but suddenly the commercials inform me I must give my bride flowers. Even my auto insurance company sends me information with a plethora of expensive flower arrangements I can order via the web that will assure my love of, ah my love.

And don’t forget the candy. It seems that February 14th brings out the connection between a woman’s sweet tooth and her well of desire for her mate.

Finally there are the news reports that inform me the average man spends a million dollars on his true love for Valentine’s Day. Yes, I greatly inflate the cost factor, but it feels like a million dollars of pressure to me.

Left to my own devices, I quietly ask my wife what she wants for “The Day.” She answers “Nothing, I am ‘fine.’” I think back 75 years to when I was 5. It was about then I first heard a woman, my mom, utter the words to dad: “It’s fine.” In the intervening years I have yet to learn the various subtle differences in that two-word statement, “It’s fine” or the harder still code to crack from a woman, “I’m fine.”

Taking a chance, I believe my wife. That is until a friend of hers calls the night of Feb. 13. She asks for my wife, Liz, and I reply she is out. Her friend asks what I am getting Liz for Valentine’s Day. When I reply that my wife said “it’s fine” if I don’t get anything, her friend answers: “You don’t believe that do you.” Notice there is no question mark.

When Liz comes home, I double and triple check about a lack of a gift, and I am again assured, “It’s fine dear, you’re gift enough.”

The next day, February 14th, my wife hands me a bag that contains four of my favorite cookies and peanut butter/chocolate candy.

“No” she assures me, “Not a Valentine’s present, I just happened to see your favorite cookies while food shopping.”

My stumbling apology is met with a number of “it’s fine” and “I’m fine.” She may be fine, and it may be fine. I’m a wreck.

Well, I can only hope by next year I will crack the “fine” code. I just don’t want to meet a “Jared” or a “Kay” over the next few weeks.

Larry Slessler lives in Medford.

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