Generalizations about No

Why hey, it’s another installment of the legendary Generalization Chronicles!!!!

No doesn’t always mean Nyet. Sometimes it means because I can say so.
No is petulant.
No is adult and mature and responsible. Just say No said Nancy. Say No to peer pressure!

No is not what we want to hear. No has been ingrained as a negative order since we were little. As children, as toddlers, we want to do Yes stuff. Yes stuff feels good and it’s fun. No is the motherly or fatherly order which pummels our flightiness into submission.

No is a splash of cold water.
No is austere. No is cold-hearted. No saves money. No is not wasteful.

I know No. I’m fond of No as a right.
Not a fucking privilege, like driving, as the DMV is so fond of telling us while they explain No. The DMV once told me No and I couldn’t drive for one year.
No is my personal opportunity to throw around my weight, to assert power. Because I really have none. I have some power over my child, but even that is ebbing as the ingloriousness of teen-aged years march in like a conquering army. You don’t tell your teen-aged child No as much you used to. Instead you plead and explain…the No. Perhaps not the best parental practice, but whatever. The answer is No, but it is not as simplistic or iron-fisted as it was when your child was 4. No. “And this is the fuck why not you little delinquent!”

No is powerful, man. I love No. I love saying No. It’s my opportunity to refute you and all your scripts and fucking deadbeat yammering. No means “eat shit.” I love No.

Some people have a hard time saying No, I’ve noticed.
Even though it’s within their rights and best interest to say No, they don’t. They are talked out of No and into Yes and misery and unhappiness ensue!

People seem guilty to say No. Guilty of defaulting to it, commanding it, making a No stand.
No takes such effort and many times the price to pay for ordering it is horrible and an affront to our comfortable middle-class, developed nation mentality.
No means it’s time to put your money where you mouth is.
No is not complacency or restfulness.
We are not a nation of No, although our government is fond of controlling us through No. No to this, No to that, No to everything because invariably Yes is dangerous to our health and the health of those we love and our No church loves.

In fact, I spoke with a friend earlier and she was talking about the enigma of No. In the context of fear, and the inculcation of fear.

This is the No of Fear. She took her car to the dealer for a scheduled maintenance which was heralded by the unmistakable red dashboard warning light in her car. Service it admonished. The service advisor perambulated timidly but relentlessly through his script. “You need to flush the transmission fluid, you need to replace the brakes, you are overdue for a radiator flush, the air and oil filters should be replaced.” The list was endless. And implicit in the car dealership maintenance spiel is the “or else” promise of doom if the overpriced service is not performed. They throw out grandiose mechanical terms which gather locomotion and they further hammer the fear into the layman’s heart. And there is always the implicit fear the neophyte must face if he chooses to disregard the sensible “suggestions.” Fear that others know more and unspoken is the understanding that if you say No, you are an idiot and foolish. You are a safe maven. You don’t tread dangerously, you are conservative. No is a revolutionary act for it implies you are not heeding concerned authority. This is also the authoritarian No. Forsake us at your own risk. It worked, for my friend could not say No. Women generally have a hard time with this and automotive service departments feed on the feminine fear of the undone and incomplete.

Coincidentally, after hanging up and showering, I grabbed my keys and ran out the door. When I opened it what greets me but a group of strolling Sunday-bested Jehovah’s Witness freaks breaking tradition on a Saturday. You know how a dog might automatically and instinctively growl at a cat before he can think about it? This describes my reaction when I’m confronted in any way, shape or form by a group of proselytizing JW’s. I despise these people and the way they find a way to disrupt your most peaceful home-fed moments and the way they relish making burdens of of themselves on the most stupidly symbolic Christian days of all. They always flutter about the neighborhood on Christmas, Easter, Halloween even. And it ain’t for candy because they do not celebrate anything, yet they make a spectacle of berating holidays by parading their hideous faces up and down your street on Christmas afternoon. When they approach my door or my seat on public transportation, my mood frequently dictates just how rude I will be. Good mood: no eye contact and a curt “No thank you.” Bad mood: “I don’t want to hear it.” In either case, my response is clearly “No” but dressed up inelegantly with a few more words than that. No. This is the kind of No I sadistically relish, the kind of No I save for special occasions. It is truly the “fuck you” No, it’s the vicious No of ire, the No of empowerment, the No of tyranny! A No reserved for the most foolhardy of them all.

No is cold-hearted and cruel. As it must be.

It just happened that immediately following the JW encounter, I headed to the local grocery market. Now I’m not making this up in order to take advantage of some poetic license in order to illustrate a point. This synchronous concurrency of events truly happened, and in fact, it was this sense of contrast which gave me the idea for this post. As I walked up to the store, I noticed both doors were “manned” by young girls in Girl Scout attire. They had set up tables where the cautious mothers sat behind piles of cookie boxes. It’s Girl Scout cookie season. Oh Lord. I was feeling especially asocial in light of the JW freakshow I’d just escaped and I was not up to playing the role of mannerly and happy entertainer. But Girl Scouts are so nice. I’m relatively “frugal” and I should stay away from cookies but I kept rationalizing internally why I shouldn’t buy cookies. I prepared to say the word if they should approach me. Which they did. “Would you like to buy some cookies?” Cute little innocent smile. “No thank you,” I answered in the most friendly tone possible. This was no Jehovah’s Witness encounter. This was a shaky and self-conscious No on my part. This was a Guilty No. In order to not appear the total ogre, I said it with a friendly, responsible smile. The girl scout, a really friendly 11-year-oldish Asian girl, did not allow her smile to break and replied “Thank you. Have a nice day!” “You too,” I matched. Her smile and undeterred composure in the face of my intractability was a joy to behold. A gentle and warm-handed No is necessary as well. I don’t need cookies and I don’t need to be spending my money foolishly. There are other people for that, the Girl Scouts won’t go broke.

No is powerful, and it should be inarguable.
I’ve had had friends who attempt to argue my No. No I can’t do this, No I can’t do that, and they try to convince me otherwise as if this is some kind of Goddamned auction for my compliance.

Fuck that, I said No.