Chris Rock used to do a bit about how the only thing women needed to survive was water, air and compliments.
I think you can throw apologies and rationalizations into that mix.
I myself seem to have been supported by these two emotional crutches throughout my existence. I’m certain I apologized to my mother on the way out of the birth canal – and then explained to her how a vaginal birth was preferable because at least she could still wear a bikini without the scar showing.
Something in my DNA requires me to apologize even when I’m not the least bit sorry – followed by a solid rationalization to act as a soothing balm to the unnecessary apology.
Give me a serious dilemma or major life choice – personal, professional, financial or emotional – and I can apologize and rationalize my way through it like a champ – or like a pathetic loser, depending on your feelings on the subject.
I have apologized – no exaggeration – to the cable guy who asked to use our bathroom, preparing him for our uncouth facilities – just in case, on the off-chance, the sight of tampon wrappers in the garbage would cause our cable rates to spike. You can’t be too careful when you bundle your internet, phone and cable at a low introductory rate.
I have apologized to small children in uniforms selling overpriced candy bars for my lack of liquid assets, while simultaneously agreeing to the purchase of a more expensive magazine subscription because I can write a check so it’s not like real money. Fifty-two dollars and 24 issues of Rock & Gem later, I am apologizing to the waste management guy for the weight of the recycle bin.
I have apologized to friends, family and complete strangers alike over the years, for offenses ranging from undone laundry and dirty floors to field trips I’d have rather jumped off a bridge than chaperoned.
I have even apologized for and rationalized problems I didn’t have.
Anyone else ever have that moment where you find yourself listening to someone’s problems, feeling guilty because whether by good planning or dumb luck you managed to avoid the same, and then apologizing for it – while simultaneously trying to make them feel as if having this problem will ultimately put them in the superior position?
Oh Doris, I am so sorry – kids, right? But really, if you think about it, it’s probably a good thing that Jeremy set the house on fire cooking meth in the microwave because you’ve wanted to remodel your kitchen for years.
Author’s note: I have no idea if you can cook meth in the microwave so don’t try it at home or else I might have to have a similar version of the above conversation – apology included – with you in real life.
Yet, oddly enough, for the things that I am truly, deeply apologetic for – for the failings of my own character (of which there are an abundance) that have put those I love in difficult positions, or words that I have said that I can’t take back – I have the hardest time actually saying sorry.
And for those things, there is no soothing balm of rationalization.
But maybe it’s better that way.