Class and the Art of the “No”

The “noes” are back.

Every once in a while there is a pause before the “no” but mostly, though, they’re quick.

Our 20-year-old daughter, Emma, is the one doing the “Noing”.  I will walk into whatever room she happens to be in and show her what I plan to wear. Then Emma looks at my choices and says “No.”

Emma is home from college for semester break. We helped move her back last Friday and since that time she has told me “No” three times.

Now, that may not sound like a lot, but you have to remember that I don’t get out much.

The most recent “No” came just a few minutes ago. Emma and I are planning to go to Joplin this afternoon. So when Emma woke up — well before 1 p.m. — I walked into the kitchen, where she was fixing a healthy breakfast/lunch of banana slices on toast, and showed her the blue denim shirt I planned to wear with a pair of gray jeans.

“No,” she said.

To her credit, Emma explained why she said “No.” Apparently, you’re not supposed to wear a denim shirt with jeans. Also, the blue shirt didn’t really go with the gray jeans.

I told Emma that I didn’t know what that meant.

Emma said she didn’t understand what I didn’t understand.

“How clothes go or don’t go together,” I said.

“Exactly,” Emma said.

“I see,” I said, even though, as always, I didn’t see.

When Emma isn’t around, I have to go to my wife for fashion advice. My wife is OK with fashion advice except that she has to make a big production about the whole thing.

If I ask my wife if a particular shirt and pair of slacks go together, she’ll make me bring them closer to her.

“Now turn on that other light,” she’ll say.

“Now hold them to the light,” she’ll say.

“Not the shirt,” she’ll say. “Hold the slacks to the light.”

“Now, hold the shirt to the light. Wait. Don’t move the slacks yet,” she’ll say.

“No,” she’ll say.

Emma and I are going to Joplin this afternoon to do some Christmas shopping. Emma is the only person who can get me to Christmas shop an entire week before the holiday.

“You can’t wait until the last minute. It’s stupid,” Emma said.

“I see,” I said, even though, as I think I already pointed out, I seldom see.

Emma has some specific ideas about what she would like to buy for her mom. She also has some specific ideas about what she wants me to buy for her mom.

When I started to tell Emma what I wanted to buy for her mom, she cut me off in midsentence.

“No,” she said.

“I see,” I said, only this time I sort of saw.

Emma has something that I don’t: class.

Like a lot of people, I would like to think I have a certain amount of class, but sadly, like a lot of people, I don’t. It’s the reason you see people at the 24-hour retail store in our town wearing pajamas.

Compared with Emma, I am sans class — classless, if you will — and she thinks waiting until the last minute to buy Christmas presents lacks a certain amount of class.

“Everything is gone by then,” she says.

“That’s what makes it fun,” I say.

“Is that why you gave Mom new windshield wipers one year?” Emma said.

I ignored the question. Instead, I picked out a different shirt to wear with my jeans.

“What do y—”

“No,” Emma said.

“I see,” I said.