There’s something wrong with me, and it’s an affliction that only affects a small minority of the population. So you could say, in a way, that I’m a rarity. In fact, if I wish to put a positive spin on it (and who doesn’t want to come off as being positive in a world where thousands of self-help books are being digitized for posterity even as we speak), you might say that I am a member of that elite club of extremely responsible people who apologize for….stuff.
Yes, I apologize for sins of omission and commission that would shock even the neighborhood bartender. But I also apologize–and this is the important part–for borderline behavior that even a guilt-ridden madman would excuse. Stuff like apologizing for requesting the disembodied voice at the taco drive-up to repeat his lisping confirmation of my lunch order. Why do I feel it necessary to apologize for not understanding his garbled verbiage? Is it a polite effort to critique his drunken stammering or is it just another form of passive aggression for which I have often copped a First Prize?
Or does it really matter? It might be of interest to my psychoanalyst if I had one, but outside of that, I expect that no one really cares. The fact remains that over the years I have apologized for things that even God in his infinite wisdom has deemed impossible to prevent. Such as sneezing or coughing. I apologize even if it’s only one or two times–the teeny tiny amount most movie or funeral goers usually allow before they turn their heads in irritation and stare at the transgressor. It’s like a compulsion. No sooner do I fumble for the kleenex that is not where it should be in my purse when I nervously glance at the person abreast of me and utter a “sorry.” And I say it quite sheepishly, as if I’m ashamed of my ability to perform a perfectly natural human function. That kinda sets the stage for other mandatory acts of apology.
For instance, if at the same movie or funeral I should accidentally laugh or sob more than the politically correct duration or intensity, then I have an overwhelming, uncontrollable impulse to apologize. I know not why. After all, every advice column I’ve read has noted the wide divergence of responses to grief. Besides, those eulogies can be downright funny even when they’re not meant to be.
Am I going on a little too long about this? Do I sound a bit narcissistic?–if so, I apologize.