Being good

Earlier today a colleague greeted me with the usual how are you? I had just finished replying with the time-honoured fine thanks - and you? when I then remembered something. I explained to my colleague that being fine was now out of date: in the last couple of days I'd noticed - really noticed, with a jolt - that the young adults I know - in their 20s and 30s - respond with I'm good.

My colleague - who had never heard this before - burst into incredulous laughter. Then we had some fun. How, she wondered, could she convey ok, but far too busy for my liking? - we decided on I'm nowhere near as good as I could be... What if life is generally fine, but today is an un-fine blip? - we plumped for I'm not as good as I used to be... or, better still well, I was very good until yesterday, but as of today... (accompanied by a wicked grin and glinting eye!)

I'm good: it's an interesting use of a word which generally denotes the opposite of evil, the absence of wickedness; a word used for morality, ethics, behaviour... a word which Jesus refused to apply to himself, saying only God is good... and here it means a general state of wellbeing, of fine-ness. And it isn't just a case of saying good, in the way I would say fine, thanks, but of owning the goodness. I'm good: not life, the universe, the state of the nation, my health, work or studies, but me - I'm good. I'm not a philosopher, so I can't and won't go any further in my ramblings, but it has caught me in my tracks enough to get me thinking and writing.

If you're reading this and can't understand what the hilarity and pondering are about, then you're either young, or else have been spending so much time with young people you've lost track of your real age. But if you understand what I'm saying and why I'm chuckling then I'm afraid that, like me, you are now irredeemably middle-aged.

Meanwhile, will I start telling enquirers that I'm good? I think not. Those who know me well would raise all sorts of sceptical eyebrows, especially if, like my colleague, they've never heard this response before! And it would also give me so much to live up to... so I think I'll just stick to feeling fine and being "goodish".


  1. I say, 'I'm good' all the time! Not, I hope because I spend so much time with the young, but because I am still clinging onto the coat tails of youth. If my students sat it to me though, I respond with a grin, 'I hope you are.' :-) xx

  2. You are living a cloistered life - The standard Youfspeak for goodbye is " See you Later" " CUL8er.
    I heard this used by an Asian Customer to an East European Kibab shop worker.

  3. Oh dear, I seem to be middle-aged at 33...!


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