person s hand raised in the air
Photo by Alwan Wildan Rosidi on Pexels.com

 

I

I was twenty minutes late to pick up a tired friend from the airport because I was stopped by a neighbor on the driveway.

He longed to tell me of his love of Mexican folk art, wanted to ask me to pick up a few things on my next trip, wanted to introduce me to his dog (who is named “beautiful” in Spanish), wanted to know if I’d like to come over for a beer, wanted to know if I wouldn’t mind taking care of his beautiful little dog.

II

Another neighbor, the one whose own mother wouldn’t let him in her house asked if he could stay the night at my place.

He was also new to selling Amway.

III

The new single mother next door locked her keys and newborn in the car.

Either I drive alone to her downtown office and convince security to retrieve her spare from her desk. Or, I stand in her yard and guard the oblivious baby in the car.

***

No, Thank You, John

By Christina Rosetti

I never said I loved you, John:

Why will you tease me, day by day,

And wax a weariness to think upon

With always “do” and “pray”?

 

You know I never loved you, John;

No fault of mine made me your toast:

Why will you haunt me with a face as wan

As shows an hour-old ghost?

 

I dare say Meg or Moll would take

Pity upon you, if you’d ask:

And pray don’t remain single for my sake

Who can’t perform that task.

 

I have no heart?—Perhaps I have not;

But then you’re mad to take offence

That I don’t give you what I have not got:

Use your common sense.

 

Let bygones be bygones:

Don’t call me false, who owed not to be true:

I’d rather answer “No” to fifty Johns

Than answer “Yes” to you.

 

Let’s mar our pleasant days no more,

Song-birds of passage, days of youth:

Catch at to-day, forget the days before:

I’ll wink at your untruth.

 

Let us strike hands as hearty friends;

No more, no less: and friendship’s good:

Only don’t keep in view ulterior ends,

And points not understood

 

In open treaty. Rise above

Quibbles and shuffling off and on:

Here’s friendship for you if you like; but love,—

No, thank you, John.

***

  • Forget politeness, make a list of all of the things for which the answer should have been or should be an adamant, unflinching: No!

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