I will take “no” for an answer. I will not only take it, clutching it to my heart like some beloved and bedraggled security blanket, but expect it and reach my hand out to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I am not a go-getter, a cold-caller or an optimist, cockeyed or otherwise. I have never been a woman who counted on her looks to get her into the club, or her charm to get out of a traffic ticket.
If I have power, it is quiet, internal, mysterious and supernatural. I wish for things, I make secret plans, and I send fragile messages in the invisible ink of hints and clues. In the clean hard light of day I will tell you that “The Secret” is utter bullshit, that no one brings things into their lives merely by wishing for them. In the dark, murky swamp of my brain I am chronically and constantly wishing where I should ask, hinting where I should tell, and enduring where I should quit. It seems to me that anyone who cares about me should be able to tell what I’m thinking, follow the moving target of my unexpressed desires, and give me what I want. It happens, but so infrequently that I should long ago have died of emotional starvation in the Skinnerian maze of cause and effect. I expect the “no,” and spin into a dizzying tarantella of surprise and joy when I get a “yes.”
I am fascinated and horrified by the Lives of The Brash and Persistent. I watch them as they ask for what they want, and rebound from rejection like those blow-up clowns with sand in the bottom. They are no better than I am, not smarter, not necessarily beautiful or seductive or fascinating, but they have a gear that allows them to ride over every bump of failure. They are not felled by the hint of irritation in someone’s voice, the tepid response to a new idea, or the unanswered e-mail; they push on. I wait for the fish to have a heart attack and fling itself, gasping, onto the rocks at my feet while they spear it from 20 feet away while smiling and drinking a beer.
I am resilient about the big losses in life, and that is a pearl of great price. I am jealous of those who are equally resilient about every glitch and refusal, seeming to assume that everyone loves them, will love them, will give them a “yes” merely by virtue of their resident goodness and deserving nature. I tell myself stories about them – they are clods who misread social clues, they are bulls in the china shop of life, they are bumbling, embarrassingly forward fools while I remain pure in my restraint. I do not put people out, put them on the spot, or push the envelope. I weave webs and retreat to a spot under the eaves, hoping for a fat, juicy fly.
I think they are happier than I am. I think they spend their time doing rather than ruminating, forging ahead rather than hanging back and checking to make sure the burners are turned off. I know they are a better fit with the world we really live in, filled as it is with fast, loud, shiny things, stronger flavors and bigger deals. There is everything for the taking, and the taking, it would seem, is theirs. They know how to do that thing where you grab great chunks of life and gnaw on them with abandon.
It is unlikely that I will become a card-carrying member of The Brash and Persistent. It is possible, though, that I can practice the “ask,” and strengthen the muscles atrophied after years of disuse. If it’s okay, though, I think I’ll start out practicing on people who already love me and know that they are expected to read my mind and follow the trail of crumbs.