The malady I am referring to here comes in varying degrees, the worst form of which can result in marriage and having in-laws move into your house, or a life sentence to Leavenworth.

The disorder or ailment is the unwholesome condition of not having the ability to say “no”. Or, even more, confounding, “I don’t know”.

No-No Phobia is at its height of futility when you are put in the situation requiring you to ask directions to something or someplace. My ex-wife, Hairstreakus Obnoxious, put me in that predicament without fail on any and all excursions, road trips big or small. I can usually find my way around quite well by myself, if left to my own devices, but that never happened. I would always hear, “Why don’t you ask that man? He looks like he could tell you.”

Not being able to say the key word “no,” reluctantly I would go over to the appointed person.

“Excuse me,” I would sheepishly say.

“Are you talking to me?” would be the usual reply.

“Yes, Excuse me,” I would have to repeat because my voice has never been very reliable in these types of situations and at times makes no actual sound until I’ve been speaking for a minute or two. “Just how do I get to such and

such a place?”

“Oh, that’s easy, you know Buena Vista Drive?”

“I sure do.” (I don’t have a clue where Buena Vista Drive is, but it must be close by, since he pointed to his right.) “

Well, you go up Buena Vista Drive until you come to Oak Street. You know Oak Street, don’t you?”

“Yes,” I say. (Now that I’ve imposed myself on this nice person I don’t want to stop him short in his effort to help by saying no.)

“Then you go north on Oak for about a half mile until you come to the big red Sale Barn.”

“Oh, I’m sure I’ve been by that before.” (If I can’t find a big red barn I should get glasses. As it turns out, I must have a serious astigmatism.)

“Well, you turn left just beyond that until you come to Buffalo Droppings Road – you know that I’m sure.”

“I know of it, of course.”(By now I have decided I am not going to listen anymore, but I still keep saying yes and sure because of No-No Phobia).

Because of this affliction I spend needless hours flailing up and down roads and, in the end, I’m usually late everywhere I go. All due to the fact I couldn’t say “no” or at least “I don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.”

I remember on one occasion when I overheard a conversation between a man and women at the Pueblo bus station. This poor gentleman was being hounded by the woman into asking the driver of a bus how they could get to the Fair Grounds. The bus was literally covered with signs that read “This bus goes to the State Fair” in big bold letters.

Women don’t rely on signs, someone has to be asked. The man finally went up to the bus driver (who was wearing a cap that said, “To State Fair Grounds”) and said, “Does this bus go to the State Fair?”

The driver, with no small amount of sarcasm, said, “No, it doesn’t. There ain’t no way to get there from here, no how.” The driver obviously didn’t have a problem with No-No Phobia, ever since I’ve always admired bus drivers.