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If it’s true that you only live once, why waste even a second of your time saying, YOLO?


For those who believe in reincarnation—the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc.—YOLO is, at best, a delusion, at worst, a blasphemous lie. Because of this, believers in reincarnation often say “No YOLO” after making a comment that could be construed as believing this life is the all there is. 

Example: “I want to experience all the pleasures of life before I’m gone. No YOLO.”


If 50 percent of all marriages fail, skip every other wedding you are invited to. YOLO.


So many people—too many people—believe that YOLO stands for, “You’re Only Lame Once.” These people go about their lives doing lame things, falsely thinking they have exhausted their single moment of lameness.


Say you’re in a crowded car and you find yourself needing to pass gas; it’s best to hold it until you drive by a farm or a sewage treatment plant; or wait until you pass through parts of Manhattan or New Jersey. YOLO.


A dental hygienist with bad breath can’t possibly be good at his job. If the dental hygienist’s breath stinks, make an excuse and leave. YOLO.


YOLO is most often uttered before doing something foolish such as cradling the phone before calling your ex, knowing well somewhere deep in your barely beating heart that the connection between the two of you has faded so irrevocably that any attempt to rekindle your deceased love will work out as well as any story where the dead come back to life. Let’s not forget that the return of Jesus began years of slaughter for early Christians and the promised eternal salvation is still on the horizon. But you hold the phone lovingly, hesitating to make that call. You whisper YOLO over and over until you get the nerve to dial the numbers. And you’ll keep muttering YOLO through every step of your rekindled zombie courtship. It’ll be the security blanket you’ll pull over you for protection through every argument; through every uncomfortable silence; through all dim and ignored moments of recognition that things will not be as they were when you were young and deeply in love and promised each other that you’ll forever have a wonderful and deep intimacy. Now all you share is knowledge that you only live once and if you only live once how could you allow the loss of the one who made you feel so alive so long ago? You’ll whisper YOLO until your soul becomes hoarse. You’ll cry YOLO hoping it repairs every weak link and when they shatter again and again; when they shatter into tiny unrepairable pieces YOLO will be there to help you move on.


Likewise, the phrase is sometimes invoked before doing commonplace things that are often mistaken for flights of nonconformity. For instance, walking to the tattoo parlor, muttering: “Watch me rebel against this oppressive society by getting a tattoo on my arm and covering it with my sleeve. YOLO!”


The term YOLO was popularized by Canadian rapper Drake, who also popularized a highly inadvisable sexual technique that starts at the bottom and ends in the hair.


If your primary goal in life is to avoid dying alone then you have already failed to accomplish your greatest ambition. YOLO.

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Rion Amilcar Scott has contributed to PANK, The Rumpus, Fiction International, The Washington City Paper and The Toast, among others. He was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland and earned an MFA at George Mason University. Presently, he teaches English at Bowie State University.

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