COLUMNIST: Just say no
Did you ever think about how many more ways there are to agree to something than there are to disagree? No wonder we all seem to have too much to do. There are too many ways to agree to do it.
Mainly, stuff like this is important to me because I seem to have reached an age where I feel like a couch potato watching a race between Time and Energy to see which one can fade back first. It's certainly not the Preakness, where some 20 or 30 to one dark horse suddenly breaks out of the pack and wins; I can't somehow see that happening. It appears that there are only the two horses in this race. One being Time; the other being Energy.
I guess one could consider Drugs as being a dark horse that could show up and race up to these two, maybe squeeze between Energy and the fence, in the process slowing Time down a bit. Wouldn't it be great if Time could stumble and truly slow down. That in turn would help Energy a great deal. If we could just handicap Time somehow.
The fact that Energy seems to be running kind of slowly is, as I pointed out in the first paragraph, because there are more ways to say yes than there are to say no. With that in mind, maybe some of the affirmatives could be eliminated, at least to a point where yes and no are more evenly matched.
"Yes." "Yes" is often used when we need to reply to some bit of logic that seems to have no downside, as in the reply to: "Do you have a bathroom I could use." (Having bathrooms closer does seem to be more important to me at this age. Perhaps that's because after all there is a dark horse running in this race; it's named Prostate. Who knows. Maybe Prostate is going to ultimately set the rules for both Time and Energy by shortening the race precipitately. One hopes not. Ah. Another race entry: Hope. The field is becoming crowded as we approach the second to last turn. Back to bathrooms.)
Somehow or other, the reply to a request for bathrooms isn't answered quite as nicely by saying: "Yeah." "Yeah," after all, doesn't quite maintain the necessary dignity and propriety that should come with recognition of the fact that even Presidents have to pee. "Yeah" just sounds kind of sarcastic, as in "So you can't hold it any longer, huh?"
So "yes" gets the useage for polite agreement. Because, no, I can't.
"Yeah" is more appropriate to the reply to: "That's quite a wart you've got on your nose there, Bill." Warts don't need the undue sarcasm of reverse dignity that a polite "yes" would infer. It's kind of late to be polite. After all, someone just pointed out your wart.
"So, are you doing anything next Thursday?" This request for information can only be driven by someone needing your help next Thursday, and this is one of those requests that Time and Energy are racing about. You have to be really, really careful now how you respond to this one. After all, your Time and your Energy could be pooped by next Thursday.
And yet, one does have obligations to fulfill. Maybe your organization is picking up the ditch. That's a good cause.
But maybe you never throw anything into the ditch, so why should you be asked to pick up someone else's trash? Hmmmmm. "Yes" is definitely not the correct response here. Neither is "yeah."
Of course you're doing something next Thursday, but your answer has to have some weight, some mass, some hugeness so that your next Thursday's activities will obviously be considered too important to be neglected.
So you answer, in a way that makes it seem that you indeed recognize the validity of their need of you, that you recognize their validity in asking of your Energy and Time, that yet, you broadcast your regret that what you are doing is much more important than what they are doing.
So you say "I sure am," as in you sure are doing something. There's a pause in here that allows you time to choose three possible "somethings," and then choose the best one. You could be, for example, fishing, or walking, or napping.
Not good. Not one of these has the weight to offset the public good involved in Time and Energy picking up the ditch. Better find three more. You're still okay; your "I sure am" seems to indicate your anticipation of doing something very important to society. Your best three choices here might be: Balancing your spouse's checkbook, curing cancer, and visiting the doctor.
No one remotely sane balances their spouse's checkbook. You better not use that one. You're not going to cure cancer, even though you were thinking more along the lines of sloshing on some sunblock and going fishing (which would prevent cancer, while at the same time actively thwarting Time and Energy, so it's pretty good, but a bit inadequate as measured on the public good scale).
So you choose the doctor. Doctors are important people. They're involved in lots of their own unvoiceable but positive responses to your plights, as in "Yes, you're too fat." Or, "Yes, you're got the ugliest butt I've ever seen." Doctors have it the worst when it comes to which "yes" to use. Mostly, they go back to just saying "Hmmmmm."
Yes. Yeah. Uh huh. Sure. You bet. Yup. Yuh. Okay.
This week, I want you all to use the best one for the job.
Either that, or just say "Hell no!" to the next person you see.
The race is on.