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No, you can’t borrow that.

Sometimes people think they’re being polite when they’re just being stupid.  If a neighbor comes over and wants to “borrow” a cup of sugar, are they going to be bringing the sugar back?  No.  But instead of saying that they need a cup of sugar or asking if you could part with a cup of sugar, they think that it’s somehow more innocuous, less of a burden, or more polite to “borrow” it.

If you need something that you’re going to consume in some capacity, just ask for it.  “Can you spare a cup of sugar?” is a perfectly acceptable, reasonable way to approach the no-sugar dilemma.

Here are some other things that you CANNOT borrow:

  • Tampons
  • Kleenex
  • A feeling
  • Ideas
  • Toilet Paper
  • A minute of your time
  • Me
  • Floss
  • Eggs
  • Film
  • Internet
  • Napkins
  • Mouthwash
  • A piece of paper
  • Deodorant
  • A toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Gasoline
  • Flour
  • Ibuprofen or Tylenol
  • Bandaid
  • Water
  • Underwear
  • A piece of gum
  • Indignation
  • Olive oil
  • Strength
  • Faith
  • Condoms

Thanks to Jenny for letting me borrow the idea.

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60 Replies to “No, you can’t borrow that.”

  1. B.E. Earl

    Lloyd Dobler: Hey my brother, can I borrow a copy of your “Hey Soul Classics”?
    Jason Dobler: No, my brother, you have to go buy your own.
    – Say Anything

    Even Lloyd Dobler’s nephew knew what you can and can’t borrow

  2. Superjules

    I seem to remember that the polite thing you’re supposed to do is when you borrow a cup of sugar, you “return” it by giving your neighbor something you baked with it– some fresh cookies, perhaps?

    I’m not sure how well that might work with the other things on the list….

  3. SisterMerryHellish

    I was going to say you COULD borrow a cup of sugar if you came back with the same amount, but then that’s not the same sugar, so really you’re just trading, and who does that?

    Someone should tell Milhouse’s dad. Poor guy went and wrote a whole song about it and no, he can’t borrow a feeling!

  4. Sheila

    This is one of my pet peeves – I always just say “No – you can’t borrow it but I’ll gladly let you have [insert non-borrowable item here].” My favorites are cigarettes and paper.

    Another thing that bothers me….when people say “Can you borrow to me?” Um…you mean “loan” you?

  5. Sybil Law

    Thankfully, most of my neighbors are scared of me, so they don’t ask me for anything.

    Also, douches and maxi pads.
    Oh dear God- but this is a true story – my friends went to visit our other mutual friends when they lived in Montana some years ago. In the bathroom, this contraption was hanging on the door. They finally asked what is what, and it was some colon cleaner thingmajig (I can’t remember the name of it). They told them they should “try” it.

  6. whall

    Methinks you’re too pedantic. Borrowing “a” cup of sugar is not the same as borrowing “that” cup of sugar. To me, the intent is clearly outlined in the request, and the implied social contract with said neighbor is for the borrower to return at a later date with an approximately similar amount of powdered confectionary material. It need not be the same brand or quality as long as a cup or thereabouts quantity is returned within a reasonable time, which is specified by the previous encounters with that same neighbor for prior engagements of lending instances. I can postulate, however, that extending the same type of agreement to household appliances or lawn maintenance equipment, such as lawnmowers, hedge clippers or ladders may convey a slightly more hostile environment in the traditional “lender/borrower” relationship, but that shouldn’t apply itself to the arena of baking or cooking supplies, especially when items such as flour or sugar are in apparent bountiful supply as is the case with most neighbors. Even in cases where the excuse of “borrowing a cup of sugar” is merely a front for meeting an attractive neighbor or breaking the ice for making way to forward more advanced lending requests, it still should be handled as a lone event and suspicion not applied as though there is more requested.

    Yup, you’re too pedantic.

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