No to Everything
. . . We’ve decided the above will be the title of my autobiography.
There is a bit of contention about which was my first word: “no” or “hot.” They worked in tandem, so I can understand the uncertainty. You see, in order to keep me from touching things as a child, my parents would say, “No. It’s hot.”
This makes sense when talking about, say, a stove. Less sense when talking about the television set. And being somewhat clever, I figured this out. My dad would be watching the telly, and I would make a move toward it. For whatever reason, turning the dial was very satisfying for me. Probably a tactile/sensory thing. I can actually still remember this—the feel of it and the sound of it burring as it clicked. We didn’t have remote controls in those days. Ours was a wood-paneled thing from Montgomery Ward as I recall. I don’t know the make or model but it looked something like:
The point being that I liked to go turn the dial on the television, and my parents didn’t want me to. So Dad would say, “No. Hot.”
And I would smile and say, “Hot?” But I would draw the word out like, “Hooooooot?”
“Yes, Manda, it’s hot.”
So then I’d reach out and turn the dial, then laugh and run away, yelling, “No! Hot!”
I haven’t stopped saying “no” since, though I don’t say “hot” as often. And televisions don’t have dials anymore.
So I think, if I were ever to write an autobiography or memoir, I’d call it No to Everything. Because I’ve been told I do say no to everything. (I’m not convinced that’s entirely true, but apparently I’m somewhat forbidding.) Also, it’s a less off-putting title than I Hate Everyone.