The Silent No Strikes Back

Cigarettes? Just say no. Candy from a stranger? Just say no. The creepy man that kept inching closer to me outside of Port Authority at 1 AM? I just said no. (Seriously, he was like an inch from me and I just got in his face and was all like “NO.” After that I invested in some pepper spray.)

It has been engrained in our minds from childhood that there are just those things in life that demand that firm, final two-lettered answer. But what do you do when you want to say no, without actually saying no?

Usually it’s some sort of awkward situation, something along the lines of that guy in your Philosophy 100 class with bad hygiene and an even worse dandruff dilemma who asked you out for Friday night, or maybe it’s when your sister gives you the 3rd degree on whether or not you ate her leftover tiramisu (oops).

Sometimes it’s a job offer that you just really aren’t up for, (that summer promotion from salon assistant to shampoo girl seems more like a punishment) or perhaps it’s just your best friend asking you to join her on her annual family vacation to the Outer Banks…cool, except that there’s no way you could last more than five minutes in the same car as her abnormally gassy grandfather.

This is where the option of the silent no comes into play, the runaway bride type principle that it is always better to ignore an offer than to reject it. I mean it makes sense, right? There’s no easier way to get out of a sticky situation scot-free than to avoid it.

I actually saw a perfect example of this on a recent episode of King of Queens (bite me, I don’t get cable in my little city apartment). Doug is at his wife’s work gathering when he suddenly realizes that he’s expected to call up the name of her boss, who’s standing right in front of him, staring expectantly in mid-conversation. Well, poor Dougie has no idea what her name is, so he does what any silent no-er would do in such spotlight, he grabs his left arm and fakes a heart attack.

Perfect solution, ya? Not so much.

The problem with silent no-ing is that it usually leads to an even stickier situation. In Doug’s case, this meant an ambulance ride and a full-day spent with a heart specialist, prescribed by none other than boss-woman herself. For others, the silent-no is tricky because it leaves the questioning side hungry for a straight answer. The silent no doesn’t sent a direct message that blares, uh, NO…which means the you, exercising your ‘right to remain silent,’ will inevitably have to endure more questions and even more pushy pushy why why’s.

So, it’s up to you to decide which is better, the Head & Shoulders before shot sitting next to you until the end of semester, smiling with his toothy-grin and numerous other party invites and dinner requests (and consequently blocking your view of that cute guy on the lacrosse team) or, if you D.A.R.E.…do you just say no?

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