Yes I knew.
"There must be another way.". I tried to weasel out of it anyway.
Kay laughed. Kay laughed the kind of hearty laugh of someone who has always had a heart of gold, the courage to call things as they were and the mouth of a truck driver.
She and I had argued for years about whether there was a real use for cursing. I had always said that there wasn't anything you could say with the F bomb that you couldn't say more articulately, say, using something fancy with several more syllables than consonants. Something that ended in -ination - or better, -ification. And any way curse words just made you feel worse. No one could still be angry after uttering the word "dookie.". It worked for me every time. Except now.
I ought to have known when I met Marian that she was that rare breed of female pompous douchebag. The biggest tip off was that she made her money as a "consultant," which used to mean something very specific and now just means, "person who does stuff and presumably gets paid."
But Marian is filthy rich.
Everybody knows her.
Everybody wants to be invited to her parties and sit around in a circle at her feet hoping to get for free the words of infinite wisdom she passes on to her high paying customers for beaucoup bucks.
I on the other hand, pride myself on having No Susceptibility to Wealth And Influence and Being Capable of Making Judgments Based Solely on a person's Merit.
Which was why I would have nothing whatsoever to do with Marian. Ever.
Until she decided she liked Me. Why she liked me was a mystery. I had no influence to speak of and on the social-climbing ladder I was on one of the bottom rungs at best.
Before I knew it I was meeting Marian at her favorite caffee. I was going to Marian's Fourth of July Party and attending weddings of family members I thought were spoiled leeches who'd burned out their best brain cells on designer drugs bought with Marian's money.
I was also feeding Marian's dog while she was away on her retreats and seminars and weekend getaways. I was looking after the house, too. And checking in with the pool boy and the maid and whatever else was so invaluable you couldn't trust the paid help to do.
I told myself this was a sort of Mr. Miagi moment. If I did all the work of carting off the cat's latest kill or cleaning out the dog's infected ear there would be some great lesson, some word and/ or phrase of infinite wisdom which would unlock the doors to health, wealth and happiness forever.
And of course the more of these favors I did the more of them I was "trusted" with. And I learned a lot of really interesting things. Like. Well, like. How Marian always said. How. Like. Well. I can't think of any right now but back then I thought I was learning all sorts of magic things and that was why I was more than happy to help move the Mahogany chest of drawers upstairs and oversee the painter's progress in the bathroom and ...
I had known Marian for years by the time I'd finally managed to get my weight off. She'd been encouraging. She'd had great tips. And the helping out with the dogs and carting off dead rodents and shifting furniture around had been great exercise. Now came the hard work of fixing what had been going on in my head that had got me to a point where I was morbidly obese, dying from my weight condition.
The first stop on the road to recovery had been self esteem and self respect. I would have to build them. I would have to do things which took care of me, just for me. I had to change my opinion of myself. Decide that I was worth the time and effort it would take to keep myself healthy. Do exercise. Think about, carefully choose and prepare my food. It would be hard to do all that if I had the attitude as I had had virtually my whole life: it wasn't worth spending the time and effort on me. My friends, family, whoever was much more deserving of my time and energy. So now I would have to Do Things For Myself Like Take More Care With Food and Exercise.
I would have to Stop doing things that were Not in my interest. Things that did not have self worth and self care at their core.
I would have to Not over eat.
I would have to Not forgo exercise for TV and popcorn.
I would have to stop spending my free hours cleaning out the ears of other people's dogs.
I would have to begin setting boundaries, saying no to all the pompous douchebags in my life and stop letting people have whatever they wanted of me in a vain effort to ensure they didn't leave me or stop liking me or tell me I couldn't play with them anymore.
I had to say no and was able to say no because whether the Marians of my life liked it or not I did not need their approval any more I had something much, much better and much, much more real and solid: my own.
So I told Marian I couldn't stop by and let the electrician in at 6 AM Monday morning. I wasn't available to stay all night and help her transcribe an inspirational song. I couldn't clean out the shed with her; I can't stand spiders.
If Marian really Was my friend and really Did care about me as much as she claimed and indeed as much as I now did, Marian's friendship wouldn't be so flimsy as to float away in the wind the moment I said I had plans for Friday night and couldn't stick around and wait for that special FedEx delivery while Marian went to the charity Gala.
I discovered in my experiments with saying no that nearly all my friends and family were completely OK with it. Some people even seemed to like me more, have the kind of respect for me I was finally showing for myself.
The men in my life especially loved it. And that was a surprise.
And so, though it shouldn't have been, was Marian. I didn't get invited to garden parties any more even though I did still occasionally get invited to help with their organization or clean up.
I had said no to Marian and unlike almost everyone I knew Marian Had abandoned me.
A few months later Marian called me. She was embroiled in a dispute with the pool boy. Would I testify to what he had done? Maybe I would even indicate I thought he was lazy and dim witted and a bit of a drunk and she was so sorry to have been so out of touch lately and we really should get together sometime.
I was going to call back today and tell her I would testify, but only the few facts I knew from one incident I'd been present for. No personal opinion. Nothing exaggerated.
And that was what I told Kay.
Kay didn't approve. She wouldn't take "no" for an answer, maybe-well-OK-but even less so.
"No. There's nothing else to say to that. What she asked you to do was wrong. And I'm amazed you'd even consider taking an hour out of your busy schedule to do it anyway."
I took a breath to say something. "No," she continued, "isn't enough."
She was right. "No" wasn't enough. "No" usually works and frankly given my circumstances I am delighted to announce that I have learned to use it appropriately. But this was one situation where "No" was not enough. "No" just said I wouldn't do it. "No" did not add, "and I am absolutely affronted by the fact that you would even dream of asking me to do anything for you let alone something immoral and potentially illegal."
"No" did not even indicate my deep dissatisfaction with her treatment of me over the years of our relationship. "No" did not give her even a vague impression of the fact that I now had a well developed sense of self esteem and self care that I would not allow pompous douchebags like her to violate no matter how rich and powerful they were.
"What should you have said?" If Kay had had half moon glasses she would have been peering over them at me. I thought about getting her some for Christmas.
I thought for a moment.
I looked around to make sure no one else could overhear.
"Huh?" It wasn't good enough.
"Fuck you.". And your little dog's ear issues, too.
"Now you'll remember for next time, too." Kay slapped her hand on the table.
And she was right. The simplistic magic of "Fuck You," is pure genius. It goes further than "no" in expressing indignation. When used properly it could skip insult and not create, but rather prevent injury.
If appropriate use of "no" is a way of enforcing reasonable boundaries, appropriate use of "Fuck You" is a way of making good and sure it doesn't happen again with someone who has no business being anywhere near them in the first place.
The Boston Tea Party was a "No." The Declaration of Independence? That was a Fuck You.
Unlike "No," "Fuck You" has to be used with extreme care. "No" in the right place will be respected. "No" in the wrong place can be forgiven. "Fuck You," is pretty final. Good friends will apologize.
Weak bonds will be tested.
Pompous Douchebags will threaten to find some reason to see you in court, too. They will hardly believe you wouldn't do this for them after all the words of wisdom they passed on to you free of charge.
To which, again, there is only one answer.
One that says go-ahead-and-try.
One that says I-believe-in-me-but-I'm-clever-enough-not-to-believe-you.
It was all I could say.
Whole Health Renovation Specialist
"Small steps can be agonizingly slow but how much better a small step in the right direction than a giant leap in the wrong one." -Me