06/15/2012 12:55 pm ET Updated Aug 15, 2012

The Lords of Maybe

Dear Waldo,

When I go out to dinner, no matter who I'm with, I make an order and the second the waiter leaves I wish I had ordered something else. When I go someplace on a trip, I wonder if I would be having more fun if I was someplace else. Even when I'm buying, say, peas, I stand there forever looking over the pea selection. My friends say I have a major problem making decisions. Is there anything I can do about this?



Dear Smegma,

Really? Smegma? Are you sure? Ok. Smegma, I'm delighted to say that there is plenty you can do about this problem you're having. No matter how many decisions you make, you are really making only one decision again and again and again: Yes or No.

When life seems easy, that's because for a lovely, delicate stretch of time the Yesses are clear Yesses and the No's are clear No's. What ruins the fun is the onset of a horrible condition called Maybe. Maybe happens when a brain develops the ability to formulate the notion of options. Those lucky amoebae, for example, know no Maybe. For them, and we can only guess for how many other living things, they get to enjoy the easy bliss of only Yes or No. Our brains are the greatest question-formulating machines on the planet, which makes us, sadly, The Lords of Maybe.

And that, Smegma, is where our problems begin. Maybe-Time is no damn fun. Passionate commitment to anything is impossible. It is a shapeless, doughy time in which you wander about eating too many sweets, and the hours hemorrhage into oblivion, only to return later to taunt you with that sinking feeling that life is passing you by.

But I have great news: I have an easy, ground-breaking exercise you can do to get rid of Maybe-Time forever. You see, Smegma, the sensation of Yes is as different from the sensation of No as the sensation of Lust is different from the sensation of Love. That is, the sensations your body feels in each instance are very different, but the differences might not be distinct or apparent until you really focus upon them.

And so what I'm going to do is I'm going to give you a series of specially formulated questions to which I want you to answer either Yes or No. However, I do not want you to say Yes or No out loud. Instead, I want you to just focus on the feeling inside of your body when you think Yes, the feeling inside of your body when you think No. At first you might not be very good at this, but after a while you will begin to notice details, the slightly different areas inside of you where the slightly different feelings take place. And hopefully, after doing my fabulous groundbreaking exercise many times, you will become intimate with the differences between the visceral sensations of Yes and No.

Ok. Here are your ten specially formulated questions:

1. Would you like to be held by someone you love?

2. Would you like some chips of glass to be dumped into your eyes?

3. Do you want the sun to explode, terminating life on earth in a sudden scalding

4. Would you like an all-expense-paid vacation to a holiday spot of your choosing?

5.Do you want to sit down hard on a giant red-hot screw?

6.Do you want good health?

7.Do you want me to knock out your front teeth with a hammer?

8.Do you like being dry and warm and comfortable more than being soaking wet and freezing and having a stick caught in your throat?

9.Do you like kind and honest people more than you like nasty people with dog shit in their hair?

10.Do you like a lovely spring day?

These questions have been scientifically prepared by me in my lab so that your responses will be unsullied by even the slightest hint of indecision. This, of course, is not The Real World. When the questions are generated by The Real World, your Yesses and No's will appear blurred through the fog of cultural expectations and the man-made fuzz of Should and Shouldn't. And therefore it becomes critical, Smegma, that you become skilled at locating the Yes or the No in the blur.

It's a difficult process, but here's a Huge Rule Of Thumb that makes the process simpler:


The better you get at recognizing the feeling of Yes and No, the less you will be hounded by Maybe. But know this: Maybe will never completely go away. And therefore, something must be done with it. Here's what to do with it:


Any time you are about to do something -- particularly something enormously important such as Choosing A Career or Deciding To Get Married or Deciding To Have Children -- do not do it if you're not getting a firm yes. Do Not Do It. Do you hear me? Just Do Not Do It. Do Not Do It. DO NOT DO IT.

Be patient. Take your specially formulated ten-question exercise out of your wallet. Practice practice practice. Wait for a Yes. Wait for a No. I hope this helps.

Your Fan,

Waldo Mellon