Lee St. John, a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, is a No.1 Amazon ranked humorous author. Look for her on Facebook, Twitter (@LeeStJohnauthor), and her blog at www.leestjohnauthor.com. Her new release, “SHE’S A KEEPER! Cockamamie Memoirs from a Hot Southern Mess” can be found on Amazon.com.

I have a hard time saying “No.” I tend to shirk my responsibilities by sloughing off “No” onto someone or something else. Saying “No” all the time for smaller slights might make it become less meaningful. Is the “No” for “Don’t touch that vase” to “No” for “Don’t touch that burner” equal? Of course not. And I wanted the second “No” to really mean something when he heard it.
So, before my oldest could read and would go with me shopping in department stores, he wanted to run off and that didn’t make shopping fun. I finally found a fix for it. We’d walk into the store, go over to a table that had a sign saying something like, “Thirty percent off everything on this table.” Pointing, I would then say, “See, honey? The sign says “Hold your mother’s hand.” It worked to keep them him in check. And I didn’t have to say the ordinary, common “No” when he wanted to run around.
I know someone who told me once that her mother-in-law thought it was just awful that she didn’t wash her hands after an emergency tee-tee break while she was preparing food. With that said, I never ate a bite again at any function where she contributed food she made herself. Never! And now it’s been years. How much longer can I do this because I am going to have to encounter her in future social situations?
I did some research to help me out. Here are some helpful ways from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/21_ways_to_give_good_no to help me get out of any future encounter.
Let’s see how well this list might work under this scenario.
She might ask “Won’t you try my homemade….whatever?”
• I could be vague but effective: “Thank you for asking, but that isn’t going to work for me.”
• It’s not personal: “Thank you for asking, but I am not eating any (whatever else it is made from) right now.”
• Ask me later: “I want some, but I am not eating (whatever else is in recipe) right now because of Lent (or my doctor tells me not to, or whatever) so please ask me again sometime.” (Maybe I won’t run into you again for a while).
• Keep trying: “None of what you brought to the party works for me but I appreciate the effort.”
• Try me at the last minute: “I can’t put another thing in my mouth. I’d love to try what you are trying to kill me with another time, though. Ask me again when I don’t mind contracting methcillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. Just kidding!”
• Gratitude: “Thank you for how much effort you put into those delicious looking but death trap appetizers. Just kidding again!”
• Give someone else a chance: “You know, I’m not interested at the moment, but I bet (someone I don’t care if they get Hepatitus A) might.”
• Setting Boundaries: “Not any for me now, thanks. But I tell you what I can do, whatever is left over, I can take to the Elder Shelter Nursing Home to distribute because of all the effort you went to.”
• Not No, but not Yes: “Let me think about it.” (Yes, think about how I might catch clostridium difficile if I take a bite.)
• I’m Already Full: “Didn’t you see how I ate a couple a bit ago? They are to-die-for!”
• Say nothing. That would be odd. I’d rather lie than do that.
• Let it all hang out: “Are you nuts? Don’t you remember when you told me about how your mother-in-law chastised you for not washing your hands when you prepared your meals? I mean, how is anyone in your home still healthy? Don’t you see the signs in restaurant restrooms saying their employees ‘must wash their hands before returning to work’? I guess not because you probably do not wash your hands after using those restaurant restrooms either.”
Now, of course, if I choose number 12, I’ll never have to worry about being offered another morsel she made. That might be the answer.