Yes Means Yes? Transcript

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So, I am 24 years old and I have never had sex. I also don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. And I don't drink coffee. I'm a Mormon. I actually am. And I’ve lived in New York City for six years as a Mormon. And it is hard to be a Mormon here, especially if you don’t drink or if you don’t do drugs, but it is especially hard to live in New York City if you don’t have sex. Especially because I'm young and I want to have relationships and I want to play too. And date and stuff. But, unfortunately, because I don’t have sex, the longest relationship I’ve ever been able to sustain is four weeks. And that is only because for two of them, he was out of town. There's this huge part of me that wants to be considered sexy and if you're not selling sex, though, you really shouldn't advertise. I don’t really ever get to come across as sexy. 

But one time, I was at this vintage boutique and I came across this 1940s, it was dark navy blue, and it was this slip. It was lacy at the top and then silk. And it was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen. And so, I tried it on. And I put it on and I looked in the mirror and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I am sexy!” And I was like, “Wow, who knew I could be sexy?” And so, I bought it. And I took it home and I put it in a drawer. And no guy has ever seen me in it. But occasionally, late at night, I'll try it on and look in the mirror and be like, “I'm sexy!”  

I know Mormons are notorious for saying no to things. And yes, you would think as a person who says no to a lot of things, I wouldn’t be any fun. But, while I say no to some things, I try to say yes to everything else, which makes me a really enjoyable person! I learned the power of saying yes when I was going to N.Y.U. They used to have these career fairs. And I was a drama student so they wouldn't even set up booths for us. But for all the business school students, they had tons and tons of booths with the coolest free trinkets they would give away. And I discovered if I said yes to all the questions they asked, I could get presents. They would be like, “Are you a Stern student?” 


“Are you interested in a job at Morgan Stanley Dean Whittier?”  

“Yes!” And if I answered yes enough, I would get a cool triangle highlighter with three different colors.  I know that technically that’s lying and Mormons aren’t supposed to lie by any means. But I figured, I do everything else right so I can do that, kind of.  

And then, another time I was walking by the Javits Center and someone said, “Are you looking for the paper convention?”  

And I immediately was like, “Yes!” And I walked in and there were all these booths and I just said yes to everything people asked me and I left with a bag full of amazing stationary. And I was like, “This is awesome.” 

  And it all led up to the mother of all conventions. I had some friends in town and they were visiting at the Marriott and we had breakfast. And at breakfast I glanced under the table and I saw a badge and it said, “Bob Barnet, 7-11 Convention.” And I was like, “Yes!”   

So, I put the badge on and we went down to this banquet hall. And they were celebrating 75 years of 7-11. So, I start mingling with people, I’m making friends, taking free samples, and I end up meeting the woman who’s running the whole convention. She starts getting my feedback and I was like, “I go to conventions all the time and this is so well organized.”  

And she said, “Did you need tickets for today’s events?” 

And I was like, “Yes.”  

And so, she gave me four tickets to Madame Tussaud's, four tickets on a bus tour, four tickets to Radio City Music Hall, and then she said, “Will I be seeing you on tonight's cruise?” 

 And I was like, “Yes, but, you know, I sent all that stuff in and they never mailed me anything back.”  

And she was like, “What?!” She ran off and then came back with four tickets worth $150 each on a dinner cruise around Manhattan.  

So, that night I got all dressed up and, me and my three friends, we went on this cruise. And it was like five hundred 7-11 employees and us. And we start mingling. We start dancing. We get going in karaoke. And then they serve this 4-course meal. And at the end of dinner, my friend turns to me and he's like, “Elna, I dare you to make a toast.”  

And I don't even drink so I've never made a toast before but I've seen movies. So, I took the glass and I took the knife and was like—dink, dink dink—and everybody shut up. And I was like, “I would like to make a toast to 7-11 for redefining convenience!”  

And they were like, "Woo hoo!" And the thing I love so much about saying yes is that where you start at the beginning of the day and where you end up can be two totally different places based on all the things that you say yes to. 

But then there's this other side of my life, which is that I do say no to a lot of things.  And with sex the thing I've learned is, it's one thing to say no to having sex to someone you've dated for like two-weeks. It’s actually pretty easy ’cause, for me, that would actually be kind of slutty to just say yes after two weeks. But it's a whole other experience to say no to having sex with someone when you feel like you're in love. And I met my 'Yes' counterpart a year ago. His name was Nick and when I met him, immediately, I was like, “You!”  

And he was like, “You!”  

And we were like, “Yes!”  

And our first date was amazing. We were walking by a movie set and we decided to sneak on and pretend like we were extras. And so, we were extras in the back of all these scenes and we ended up in the makeup department and they asked us what we needed and at the same time we both said, "Black eyes."  And so, they gave us these huge black eyes and we spent the rest of the day going around New York City with black eyes. And we had so much fun.  

And we just kept going on adventures. And we were dating. And I didn't tell him I was Mormon. ’Cause I was like, “You know what, in addition to being Mormon, I am a lot of other things.” But I really, truthfully, didn’t want to tell him I was Mormon because I wanted to get to date him. And I knew it probably wouldn’t work out if he knew I was Mormon.  

And so, as casually as you can bring that up, a couple of weeks in to dating him, I was like, “Oh, by the way, I'm Mormon.”  

And he's like, “Oh, um, I'm an atheist. Can you be with an atheist?” 

And I was like, “Yes. Can you be with a Mormon?”  

And he was like, “Yes.”  

And so, we kept dating. And we kept going on adventures. And it was really, really wonderful but then there were these grander things that we were that kept interfering, as much as we tried to ignore them. And I remember one of the bigger ones was when I found out he didn't believe people had souls.  

I was like, “What?! What? Doesn’t everyone believe that? Doesn’t, I mean, religious or not, doesn’t everyone believe people have souls”  

He was like, “No, I don't believe people have souls.”  

And I grabbed him by the shoulders and I looked him in the eyes.  

And he was like, “What are you doing?”  

And I was like, “I am looking at your soul. And I can see it. And I can hear it. And I know it's there!”  

And he was like, "Really? And what does my soul have to say?”  

And I listen really close and I was like, “It says, ‘Fuck You! Fuck you! I've been living inside you for 29 years and you've been ignoring me the entire time!' ”  

So, we kept dating, even though at this point I realized my soul mate didn't actually believe in souls. But I was willing to be OK with that. And then the sex thing comes up and he was like, “Are we going to have sex?” 

And I was like, "No." And then he did that thing where he started to pull away and I could tell he was starting to phase me out. And it's so interesting because every girl knows when a guy starts to phase her out.  Even if it’s just coincidentally that day he didn't pick up his phone, it's like you feel it and you know. And so, I started thinking, “Why would he want to phase me out?” And I started thinking, “Well, it’s because I'm Mormon and it's because I won't have sex.” What is that? 

And then I started thinking, “What if he is the love of my life and I end up marrying a Mormon guy that I like OK and I spend the rest of my life regretting this decision?” And then I started thinking, “What if he is right? And what if God doesn't exist?” And then I’m making this sacrifice for some totally imaginary reason. And then I started thinking about sex and how you feel when you are in love that sex is something totally different. It almost feels like a natural progression of things.  

And I thought, “You know, m--m--maybe I could have sex? Hm, OK.” And then we went out again. And I could tell, it’s like I sensed it was one of the last times we would get to go out with each other. And we were supposed to go to this outdoor exhibit and it got rained out. So, we ended up back at my apartment. It was like the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday. We made grilled cheese sandwiches and put on a movie. But I was still wet from the rain, so I was like, “I’m just gonna change into something else.” So, I walked into my bedroom. And I was just going to put a tee-shirt on and I opened the drawer and I saw that blue slip. And I was like, “What if I put that on?” I was like, “Why would you do that? It's the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday.” I was like, “Well, I own that and I've never worn it” And what is this thing—this sex thing? I can do that. I can say yes to having sex. And what I love about saying yes is like, when you do say yes, everything can change. And so, I took that slip out. And I put it on. And I walked into the living room.  

And he was like, “What are you trying to do to me?”  

And I was like, "Shhh!" And we started kissing and we lay down on the couch. And we were kissing and the moment was building. And we were kissing. I leaned into his ear and I heard myself say, “You need to pray and find out if God exists.”  

And he was like, “What?!”  

So, I was like, "Never mind!" And we started kissing again. And the moment started to build again. And it was all going well again. And it happened again. I leaned into his ear and I heard myself say, “How can you know if God exists unless you've prayed?”  

And he was like, “What?”  

And I was like, “What am I doing?" 

And so, he sat up, and I sat up, and he was like, “What are you trying to say?”  

And I was like “Well, the only reason I believe in God is because I prayed and I asked and I got an answer. And so, all these choices that I make are a result of that feeling.” 

And he said, “Do you want me to pray?” 

And I was like, “Yes.” 

And he said, “OK. I can do that.”  

And I was like, “Really? OK.” And so we said goodbye and he left. And the minute he left, I said a prayer.  And I was like, “God, I know I pray a lot but can this one count for like a whole lot more than the other ones? And can you really just listen to this prayer. And you don’t even have to listen to anything else I ever say? But if Nick prays, will you answer him?” And then I called my mom and dad and I was like, “Can you pray?” And they said they would. And then my parents called my grandparents and my grandparents called—and literally there was like a Mormon family tree across the United States praying for me that if he prayed he would get an answer. And I didn't hear from him for two weeks. And when I did, we agreed to meet up. And we met up and sat on a bench and were just small talking. And, finally, I just broke through and asked the question that I really just mostly wanted to ask. And I said, “Did you pray?”  

And he said, “Yes.”  

I was like, “Wow.” Which is huge ’cause he’s like 29 and his whole life he’s never once tried to pray. And I said, “What happened?” 

And he told me that he sat in his room in silence. And that he prayed and he asked if God existed. And he sat there for a long time and he listened. And he realized that even if he did hear an answer, it would just be him telling himself that he had heard an answer because he wanted to be with me and that it wouldn't be real. And that was it. And I was like, “OK.” And that was it. And we broke up.  

And as upset as I was that he didn’t get the answer I wanted him to get, I totally understood where he was coming from. Because he tried as hard as he possibly could to find God, for me, and I tried as hard as I possibly could to have sex for him. But in the heat of the moment, all I could do was bring up God. My whole life I thought that I didn't have sex because I was Mormon. But I realized, I don't have sex because I don't want to. And sometimes saying no can actually be saying yes.  

Thank you.