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Friday, March 22, 2013

Can You Say No?

There are a number of illnesses that cause the victim to be incapable of saying, "No."  In a typical or mild case, someone is discussing movies, tv shows, bands, or books with his friends (I know no one ever discusses books these days, but bear with me) and someone will say, "Have you seen/heard/read Such and Such?"  A simple, straight-forward question, you would think, to which the answer happens to be "No," and yet, due to some neural kink brought about by the unfortunate's condition, he is unable to utter this syllable and instead says, "I've heard of it."  Not only has he not heard of it, he is puzzled why anyone would name a book, band, or tv show Such and Such.  The question would evoke the same response if the name were So and So.

In more extreme cases, the diseased person is unable to say "no" even in the most dire of circumstances.  Let us suppose he is a married man, and lives in - oh, we'll make up a mythical city - Brookhaven, Georgia, and his wife poses a perfectly frank query such as does he think it's a good idea to knock out the walls, install roof-beams, and turn the chimney forty-five degrees to the right so it will face the entertainment center.  Instantly images of fat fistfuls of cash flushing down the toilet appear in his mind, coupled with tableaux of fat contractors with greasy butt cracks applying jackhammers to brick and mortar, filling the house with migraine-inducing racket and clouds of dust.  Evolution has spent billions of years equipping us to say "no" in such situations.  Ask a typical marmoset or weasel this question, and he'll say "no" in a hot second, and yet this human, equipped with a so-called rational mind and a thorough command of the English language, will only be able to mutter, "Hmm, well, it's an interesting idea.  Let me think about it."

The victim of this debilitating condition is actually not in control of his own vocal cords.  He has the distinct intention of saying no, and instead comes out with, "I'll get back to you on that," or "Let me think about it," or even, "Maybe."  No medical treatments exist as yet, besides which, sufferers who seek medical help thwart effective diagnosis by the very nature of their condition.  A doctor will ask, "Have you been exercising - cutting back on your drinking - eating less red meat - like I told you?" and the patient will respond without hesitation.


1 comment:

  1. Trouble is...in such a hypothetical situation as described above...if the married man doesn't come out with an immediate "Hell, NO! Why would anyone want to do such a crazy thing as that?", the man's wife hears "Certainly! What a clever idea!" Sometimes all you can do is to fight the long defeat...