“Can I come use your blow dryer before the party?” Stacy asked innocently, adding, “You can say no.” Well, now that Stacy had been polite enough to give her permission to say no, Clara should return the favor by saying yes, of course. Stacy came over to use the blow dryer. She also drank Clara’s last kombucha.
Kyle knew his request was a lot, but he thought it was worth trying. “Hey, Becky, I was wondering if I could crash on your couch for the next 28 days. I’m in between apartments, my startup hasn’t started doing the whole ‘salary thing’ yet, and you’re the only person who hasn’t yet said no. You can say no, by the way! But if you do, I’ll be homeless.” Becky was annoyed that Kyle was guilt-tripping her. Then she remembered – he had told her explicitly that she could say no. What a gift! Becky had to repay him, so she readied her pull-out bed. For her — obviously. Kyle was getting her queen.
“This blow dryer is amazing!” Stacy exclaimed, “any chance I can keep it?” Clara looked at her in shock. Was she asking to take her $200 blow dryer? Stacy could sense her frustration. “Oh, god, you can say no!” Stacy apologized. “Ok, yeah, no, you can’t have it,” Clara told her. Everyone turned to look at Clara. Had she gone insane? Did she need to be forcibly removed from the friend group? She realized her mistake immediately. “Wait, take my blow dryer! Take my dress and my boyfriend too! Have my mother, she loves you more! And drink another Kombucha!” Clara squealed. Besides, Clara’s hair looks better flat anyway.
“Want to have sex?” Armando asked Emily, “You can say no.” “Wow,” Emily thought to herself, “and they say chivalry is dead.” This is what #metoo was about after all, men giving women permission to say no to things we know we’ve been able to say no to all along. Armando already had the condom on by the time he was done telling her she was more than welcome to decline his request for sex. He came in three minutes, Emily didn’t at all.
“Your application has not yet been processed. You can say no—” Jenny cut the operator off as soon as she heard those words. “Yes, yes, I say yes! Since you’ve given me permission to say no, I say yes!” Jenny yelled. The machine could not process her request. Instead, it responded, “I’m sorry, I misunderstood you. You can say ‘notify me when my status changes’ or press 1 for more options.”
“Do you want to have kids with me?” Bobby asked Laura. Laura had always hated children, and Bobby knew this. “I was thinking just a few — maybe like five or six?” Laura didn’t want kids, and Bobby knew that. But five or six wasn’t that many — she had that many shoes, after all. Individual shoes — three pairs total. But first, she wanted to check on one thing. “Can I say no?” Laura asked Bobby. “Of course you can!” Bobby assured her immediately. Now that Laura had permission to say no, she felt comfortable saying yes to a massive life choice she had never wanted to make. 30 years later, when their last child graduated from high school and Bobby had left her for a woman 20 years her junior, Laura looked back and wondered if maybe she had made a mistake. But she definitely loved at least two of her six children.
“Want fries with that? You can say no!” Kerry sighed in frustration. Now she had to eat the fries. Whole30 foiled again!
“Ok, this is kinda a big request,” Teresa asked Jane, “and I want you to know ahead of time that you can definitely say no. In fact, I’m legally obligated to tell you that. But anyway, can I have a kidney?” Jane didn’t want to give up a kidney, but Teresa was a good friend, or like, an ok friend, or like, a nice acquaintance. She came to Jane’s birthday parties most years. Jane obliged, knowing that if she was allowed to say no, she’d seem rude if she actually said no. That’s not what polite women do. Unfortunately, the anesthesia malfunctioned and Jane went brain dead in surgery. “NO!” Jane’s mother wailed, “Did she know she was allowed to say no?!”
“Do you want us to keep her on life support for another few days,” the doctor asked Jane’s mother, “You can say no.”