No means no! We all know that. But “yes” can also mean no. So can “maybe”. So can “inshallah”. So can “of course! I’ll be there!” Outsiders, I’m sure you’re confused. But Dearborners know exactly what I’m talking about. In a word, there are so many ways to say “no” in Dearborn that we’ve forgotten how to actually say “yes” anymore! And most of what would normally mean “yes” anywhere else on the face of the earth actually, to us, means “no”!
Let me explain. Outsiders, brace yourselves for an epiphany! Meet the many faces of “no”.
“Yimkin (Maybe)” Dearborners learned this one from their parents. “Maybe” almost always means “no”. It doesn’t mean there’s a chance; it actually means “there isn’t a chance but if I let you think that there is one then perhaps you’ll shut your mouth and quit nagging me.”
Works every time.
“Minshoof (We Will See)” No we won’t. His mind’s already been made up. What he really means is “YOU will see. I already know”. This one also dates back generations. Whenever you hear “minshoof”, be on guard!
“Inshallah (If God Wills It)” Another parental favorite. Inshallah sounds like it means yes. After all, this person fully intends to do what you’re asking, right? But what it really means is “No. But if you press the issue, I’ll just blame it on God.” I mean, He didn’t will it! Why are you mad at me?
“I’ll Try To Make It” This is a definite no. This guy has no intention whatsoever of joining you and has already made up his mind about it. But he isn’t going to tell you that up front, so he’ll ride the bandwagon all week. But have no doubt that when the time comes, he’s going to bail out at the last second. Possible excuses include:
“My cousin just came over.”
“You guys go ahead and I’ll catch up.”
“I’m not feelin’ good.”
(Note: You will be informed through text message. For sure.)
“Who Else Is Going?” This phrase is code for “I’m not interested but I’ll give you one more chance to impress me”. This guy doesn’t want to join in your activity at all. But depending on who’s coming along, he might just end up tagging along. For no other reason, of course, than to hang out with the others and make fun of you. At any rate, if you hear “who else is going?”, then you certainly know who isn’t.
“I Got Your Back” This one requires some explanation. It is in fact a complicated code that contains layers of meaning. Someone who’s “got your back” is coming along for the ride. He’s showing up on time, as promised, and fully intends to stick it out with you the whole way through. But if things get ugly for any reason at all, he’s disappearing. Vanishing into thin air. But don’t worry. If you see him again in the future, he’s going to have an excellent excuse for why he suddenly wasn’t there. Any one of the following is perfectly plausible:
“Wallah man, I had to pick up my brother.”
“My boy called. It was really important.”
“Bro, where’d you go! I was looking all over for you!”
“You didn’t see me? I was right next to you!”
“Call Me When You Get There” Yeah. So that I’ll tell you that I’m not coming when you get there! If he wanted to go, he wouldn’t need you to call him. This guy doesn’t want to join you, but he’s hoping YOU won’t be able to make it. That way, he won’t take the blame for not going.
“I’ll See You There” This phrase is almost never a reliable promise of attendance. It’s actually a total evasion of responsibility. What it really means is “I’m probably not going. But I’m still covered because I didn’t actually commit to going in the first place. Besides, I can always say that I was there but didn’t see you. Not my fault.”