I think as a general rule, most people can agree that the world would be a better place if we all acknowledged our faults and wrongdoings and politely and sincerely apologized. There should, however, be a mutual agreement between human beings not to apologize for some things, because the awkwardness of doing so makes everything worse.
Sunday was my 25th birthday. My choice of celebratory activities was crafting and over-analyzing 90s teen movies in my living room with my best friend. Because I’m badass. After polishing off a pizza together, I desperately wanted a piece of my birthday cookie that my grandmother gave me. My small birthday cookie bought from the Nestle place at the mall, cooked with magic and love and iced with unicorn blood (which is delicious). With anyone else, I’d have waited or tearfully sacrificed a piece of cookie as opposed to being rude and eating it in front of them without offering some. Gail, though, knows what color my vibrator is, because she was with me when I bought it. I just spoke the words “While you’re pooping, read my blog” to her. Normal manners do not apply. So I cut myself a slice of cookie and plopped back down with my yarn. Halfway through eating said cookie, though, Gail asked what it was. I felt guilty when I explained and continued to feel guilty as I ate. Finally, I apologized, because said guilt was ruining my cookie.
Me: “I’m sorry I didn’t offer you any of my cookie. I just really don’t want to share it.”
Gail: laughing “That’s okay, but you probably shouldn’t say that to people.”
This is a recurring problem for me and I’m only just learning to let it go, because…
“I’m sorry I said ‘you’re welcome’, when you didn’t say ‘thank you’. It wasn’t pointed or anything. I just said it out of habit. Not that I”m trying to… um… have a great day!”
… doesn’t make things better. At best, explaining…
“I’m sorry I didn’t say hi before and now it’s been too long and it’s awkward to say hi, but I don’t want to seem rude, so HI!”
… is endearing. Just make sure you say that final “HI!” way to loudly. Scream at people. It’s adorable.
More than once, I have apologized on my way out of the video store for not saying thank you, while explaining that I understand it’s irrelevant three minutes later, but I’d rather be bumbling than rude. People tend to just look confused. Confusion, however, is relatively harmless. Thankfully, these small uncomfortable moments have been my lessons in holding the apology, because sometimes, discomfort is not the worst addition to the situation. Occasionally, if you plan really well, you can make an unprofessional comment or situation even more out of line.
For example, yesterday, when I passed my manager a stack of books, I did not apologize for unintentionally brushing her boob. I almost did, but clamped my mouth shut before the words escaped. Today, when the same manager explained that the Family Talk section in the library was a collection of books on awkward subjects, such as having two daddies, I didn’t stop myself before making a comment about teaching your child about masturbation. It was sort of a joke, but I immediately rolled my eyes at myself for making that comment to a superior. I, however, did not apologize, though I wondered if I should. I am slowly, but surely, learning that sometimes, acknowledging that what you’ve done is stupid, validates said stupidity. Not to mention, calls further attention to the M word or accidental caress. Both of these are best ignored. Worse, in my case, instead of a normal adult sentence, I get flustered and stumble over what should just be “I’m sorry. That was inappropriate.” I seem to think being more detailed somehow helps. It does not.
“I’m sorry I said masturbation just then. That was inappropriate, since you’re my manager. Though, I suppose it would have been inappropriate regardless of your status. Come to think of it, masturbation is a perfectly natural… um.. yesterday… I didn’t mean to honk your boob.”
Sometimes, silence truly is golden.