A Lengthy Examination of the Word “No.”

“No” is one of those words that we all learn as children, and we all understand it.
We all know what “no” means.
It means “no.”
It’s not a graceful word… it’s not eloquent or persuasive… it doesn’t linger on the tongue, caressing one’s tastebuds like a delicious Werther’s Original (YUM)… “no” is one of those irritatingly redundant words that really, in essence, does not allow for interpretation or wiggle room.
“No” is, in and of itself, a linguistic full stop.

The bottom line of a no is always “no.”
Do you know what 40 “no’s” add up to?
They add up to “no.”
They don’t add up to “I’m not sure” or “Try again later” or “Try harder” or “Get your head in the game”… they add up to NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
You don’t have to like the way that makes you feel… and you don’t have to understand the reasons behind it… you ONLY have to understand what “no” means. And no means “no.”

Now, if a person delivers a series of other words, strung together in a way that is meant to spare the feelings or pride of another party, but the ultimate point is “no”, then “no” is the takeaway. The “no” should not be disregarded because it was not yelled at full volume, with hands planted on hips and furrowed brow. “No” is a powerful word that does not require raised voices and fisticuffs and pointy-tipped weapons to get the message across. Regardless of whether it has been polished and dressed up in the clothes of delicacy, a “no” is strong enough to be heard and comprehended.

We all know what “no” looks and sounds and feels like… I know this, because whenever people hear it, we go to nonsensical, truly outrageous lengths to pretend that we’ve heard something else (and humans are nothing if not unreasonably persistent in their commitment to delusion).
“You were smiling at the time, so I thought you meant yes.”
“You didn’t taze me and yell additional profanities, so I sensed some ambiguity… and ambiguity means yes.”
“Well, you didn’t say it in French, so I wasn’t sure if maybe you possibly meant to say ‘oui’. Honest mistake on your part, really.”
“You said it so long ago that surely your no has softened into an enthusiastic ‘OF COURSE, DUDE!!!!!'”

Oh, precious.
You’re smarter than that.
That ugly little sensation of disappointment or even anger is a clear indication that you comprehended the explicitly stated or embedded “no.”
At this point… if you persist… then, regardless of the deepest, most pure intentions of your stainless soul, you are attempting to push past a clearly defined, clearly understood “no.”

This does not make you charmingly persistent.
This does not make you John Cusack in the 80’s.
This makes you a pushy creep.
You have donned the slimy accouterments of a pushy creep.
You have transitioned from a regular, probably non-threatening schmo with regular, probably non-threatening intentions into a pushy creep that we all might need to be a bit concerned about.
You don’t want to be a pushy creep.
You don’t want to join those ranks, do you?
You don’t want Norman Bates as your patron saint, do you?
You don’t? That sounds terrible, you say? I’m not that person, you say?
Then stop.
Regardless of your reasons or motives or desires… juststop.

Respect the no.


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