Saying No To Saying Yes

The Next Family

By: Ann Brown

Did you see the cover of O Magazine last month? Check it out.
“Say YES! to life!” it screams in life-affirming electric blue letters against an energetic neon lime green background.
I might get a subscription to that rag just so I can fucking cancel it.
“Dear O,” my letter will read, “get off my ass, okay? I say YES! to life plenty.”
Not that I owe O any explanation, but:
I say YES! to all social invitations before deeply regretting it and lying to get out of them.
I say YES! to the March of Dimes lady on the phone when she asks me to be the neighborhood canvasser and donations collector. And I say YES to Robin when he accuses me of sending the March of Dimes two hundred dollars of our own money just so I don’t have to canvass my neighborhood. Well, first I say NO to Robin in a highly indignant manner, but then I confess and say YES.
I say YES! to the pharmacist when she asks me if I’d like to save money by getting two month’s worth of my Prozac by mail order.
I always say YES! when a saleslady asks, “do you need a larger size?”
I say YES! to guilt. To fear. To regret. To poisonous envy. To unabashed coveting. I do not need O to give me shit about it served with an exclamation mark at the end.
And you know what? The exclamation mark is starting to piss me off.
The exclamation mark is the motherfucking pep squad leader of grammar; big-toothed grinning, baton-twirling, motivational-speaking bursts of positive energy, as welcome a surprise at the end of a sentence as a family intervention. ExMark is the manic, coked up asshole who follows you around at a party, tapping your shoulder and saying, “this is a FREAKING AWESOME party, right? Right? RIGHT????”
You know who I wanna hang with at a party? The parenthesis. I imagine the parenthesis would speak in understated, snarky asides all evening. I’d so dig that, leaning in close to hear his mean-spirited bon mots all night long. Everyone else would say, “what? Sorry I missed that” but Parenthesis and I would shrug and murmur, “oh it wasn’t important.”
Yeah, if people could hang with grammar, I would totally be a parenthesis hag.

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