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Just Say Yes

Why Nancy Reagan had it all wrong.

Yes yes yes. Sure sure sure. Okay okay okay. 

This type of emphatic acquiescence might be misconstrued. Clean up your mind. In the context of this G-rated article, we are referring to the joys of being a yes-man, a yes-woman, a yes-kid, a yes-person.

In other words, Nancy Reagan had it all wrong. Who wants to be the nay-sayer all the time? We’re tired moms who always seem to be saying you can’t, you shouldn’t, you mustn’t. After 19 years of pointing out the pitfalls, the dangers, and the reasons why not, we’ve been experimenting with the dark side of yes. We’re not used to it, but there’s something very appealing about just saying yes.

About a year ago, we adopted this corporate policy for our three-person empire, Pocket Lint Productions. The dynasty consisted of the two of us, and our sister-in-law, Claudia: three strong-willed, opinionated and, according to our husbands and children, stubborn women. Given a suggestion, each of us was fully capable of coming up with millions of reasons why we couldn’t do it, couldn’t make it, couldn’t fit it into our schedule, thus killing the joy and spontaneity associated with simple agreement. 

Take lunch, which should not pose many problems. No one votes against lunch, right? With guys it’s easy. “Want to grab something to eat?” Done. For us, choosing a lunch spot created an in-office debate on a daily basis. To begin with, on Mondays, Betsy gave up carbs. By Thursday, however, her resolve would wane and a toasted asiago bialy from sounded pretty good. Claudia, our on-again, off-again vegan, sometimes wanted vegetable sushi and sometimes needed a BLT with extra crispy bacon. Sally, the lifetime member of Weight Watchers, would start grazing on her chopped veggies at 11 a.m., work her way through her minuscule sandwich, and would be desperately awaiting dinner by 2 p.m. There was no consensus when it came to lunch.

And so the “Okay” policy was put in place.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say Claudia suggests we think about lunch. We reply, “Okay” in a happy, slightly sing-song fashion. And we mean it. Then Claudia might say, “How about ?” Betsy and Sally reply, “Okay.”

Sure, someone might want the Farmer’s Salad from Country Kitchen. One of us might want the mozzarella stick and cucumber slices she brought from home. But agreeing to agree on things we might not necessarily want turns out to be quite freeing. So vegetable curry it is. No one dies.

Let’s see what happens when the “okay” philosophy is abandoned.  Betsy comes over and wants a cup of tea.  “What kind?” asks Sally.  “Oh, anything. Maybe something with lemon, or a chai."

“How about decaf vanilla chai?”

“I need caffeine.”

“How about vanilla rooibos?”

“Nothing vanilla.”

“How about The Republic of Tea’s blueberry green tea?”

“I hate green tea.”

What happened to okay? What happened to the philosophy? You want tea or you want to go home? Decide already.

She settled for white pomegranate. And she liked it.

Now, the just say yes philosophy can go awry.  Let’s consider this acquiescence at the public level. Did you see the State of the Union address last week?  Forget the content of the speech. We didn’t ask if you’d listened. We want to know if you watched it, and if you did, did you happen to see Hillary Clinton sporting that rhinestone headband?  Not to be catty, but that would have been a good place to have implemented the just say no dictum. No glittery headbands, Mrs. Secretary of State. And according to Betsy, Justice Ginsburg needs to lose the lace collar since Laura Ashley’s death, in 1985, brought with it the demise of that particular fashion accessory. 

But we digress. We’re talking about saying yes. Consider the possibilities of being a mother who doesn’t always find reasons to slam everything our families want to do. 

The girls want tattoos for Hannukah? Okay.

The boys want to shave their heads for fun? Okay.

Husband wants to grow a ponytail that he can then cut off and donate for Locks of Love? Okay.

Other husband wants to fill the garage with giant pieces of wood and discarded parts of tricycles so that he can design a dangerous, ridiculous, unusable craft inspired by a gondola but to be used on land and called a … wait for it… landola? Okay.

See how easy it is to be agreeable? Everyone’s happy. No permanent harm is done, if you don’t count the tattoos. And we’re no longer the meanies.

There is, of course, the exception that proves the rule. We agree to say yes only during normal business hours. Sorry, husbands. Sometimes we just want to watch The Daily Show and call it a day.

Glo January 28, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I would like a, "Yes, let's book a trip to GCM!" Sally? Betsy? Anyone???
Beth Olderman January 28, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Me - I say yes to GCM!
Tina Helsell January 28, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Yes, just say YES to the Caymans!
David Greenberg January 29, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Only if the londolier has a good singing voice ;->
Tina Helsell January 31, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Fabulous article, btw, and look at you--you FOX--looking amazing in a very short skirt. I am impressed and deeply envious. XO, Tina

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