Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Nonlinear Advice (How to Say No)

I performed my friends Ellen and Jiro's wedding this summer. Although I worried about it, I got a lot of positive feedback afterwards. The only one to criticize it was Jiro's uncle Morty. He walked up to me and said that the ceremony was nice, but it had one problem.

"Oh, what's that?" I asked.

"Not enough Morty."

In a similar vein, Jiro recently mentioned that he thought my blog was suffering from a lack of Jiro. Although I do mention him occasionally, I agreed that I could do more. To address the lack-of-Jiro problem on the blog, I am instituting a new occasional segment, in which Jiro offers readers advice.

There is precedence for this, as Jiro and I once had the idea to turn a philosophy PhD, yoga-practicing, mountain man turned sheriff's deputy friend of ours into a guru for the rich and gullible. I had read an article about wealthy people paying crazy sums to attend retreats at which they were served starvation diets, made to sleep on boards, and exercised to the brink of exhaustion. These "spiritual vacationers" apparently attend and enjoy such retreats because their real lives are so luxe that privation seems novel and exciting. Jiro and I planned a retreat center built around our friend and his mountain home. We'd feed them a macrobiotic diet, make them sleep in the dirt, and have our friend lead 20 mile hikes and marathon yoga sessions. Jiro's slogan for our program was "Have life whys? Visit Lifewise."

We never got around to setting this up, but I know Jiro still wants to mess with people's lives offer people useful advice.

** ** ** **

Our first question comes from a dear put-upon friend, DS. I'd tell you her real name, but since her question is about how to say no, I am afraid you'd just take advantage of her. DS asks Jiro how to respond to her friends, relatives and neighbors, who are constantly asking for things. They ask for help, for her skills, for her time, with no expectation that they will pay her back or respond in kind to her assistance.

Jiro, please help DS, how can she say no?

The wise and powerful Jiro replies:

Do you have someone asking you to do something for them and you want to say no, but don’t know how?

Let me run you through a visualization. Imagine:

Your child is about to put the phone in the toilet.

Your spouse puts their cold feet in your crotch as you try to go to sleep.

Your father asks you to check if he has hair growing out of his ears.

Your neighbor is practicing the tuba at 6 in the morning.

Dick Cheney naked.

Basic instinct 2.

Feel the word “no” flowing from deep in your soul. Or just check the caller-id and don’t answer your phone until they ask someone else.

** ** ** **

Our second question came from another friend, and is in a similar vein. A friend from Iowa asks how she can gracefully host a dinner party for 3 that has turned into dinner for 10.

Jiro suggests:

Provide two squares of toilet paper to each of the first four people to arrive. The others get nothing.

** ** ** **

So now it is your turn. Have any burning life questions, need help from a (self-appointed) authority? Want someone to tell you what to do? Jiro can help. Email me at nonlinear.advice@gmail.com, or leave your question in the comments.

Jiro is here, Jiro is listening, Jiro can help.


  1. Dear Jiro,

    Recently I have found myself increasingly attracted to Elmo. It was bad enough when I just saw him on Sesame Street, but then came Tickle Me Elmo, and now Elmo T.M.X. I find myself fantasizing about Elmo and I moving into a Greenwich Village apartment and spending lazy Sunday mornings drinking french roast and doing the New York Times crossword puzzle. I also fantasize about having a three-way with him and Bert. What should I do? I can't concentrate at work, and I spend all my free time talking on the Elmo phone.

    Please help!


    Betsy Veal

  2. Jiro is wise! Love you, Jiro.

  3. Jiro is my

    (apologizes in advance)

    (wait for it)



    sorry, N. I apologize to you, to your readership, and to the world.

    but someone had to say it.

  4. I need to know more about this Jiro character- why haven't I heard of him before? How have I missed this?

  5. (un)relaxeddad2/10/2007 12:59 AM

    "Mess with people's lives." Oh I so identify with that!

    Hysterical, just the thing on a rainy saturday morning when all the dudelet will do is watch Cbeebies and argue about ice cream.

  6. one year later or so, this made my stomach tighten with laughter here.

    wow. i like jiro.

    and he makes box cars. awesome.