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So now that the Forum is re-gussied up and I can get on with my life, it’s time to rant! First of all, you need to go to Robb’s blog. It’s a new link here on the site.

Robb and I were in a play together over two years ago, and he was part of the CCPT team this summer when I did Antigone. Robb never ceases to entertain me when he’s on stage, and off, for that matter. And now I see he’s got a blog AND he draws this cartoon strip that is surely in the top 1% of decent comics on the Web. (I’ve read many a web comic, and what I’ve read of his already beats most of them by leaps and such.)

I could tell you to visit and leave it at that, but then I wouldn’t be taking advantage of the insanely-powerful power of TrackBack that the new Wren Forum offers. Robb has a well-writen rant on the emasculation of “thank you.” His rant planted some ranting seeds in my own head, which shall sprout and flower now, as they are wont to do in the fertile ground of The Wren Forum. (Vermoo for the hokey metaphor.)

I, too, got a notice at my apartment one day. My entire street would be closed all day on October 3rd so that men in reflective vests could come and slop slurry sealant on the apparently failing asphalt. I park in the alley, which is usually a huge inconvenience, but this time it proved to be a lucky deal. But what if I had a more coveted parking space in the front? And what if, say, I wasn’t going to work that day, or didn’t work at all? I’d have to park somewhere else in the neighborhood, something that’s getting more impossible to do as more four-story condo buildings replace two-story apartment buildings and more local businesses become too cheap to provide their employees with parking in the high-rises where they work. Of course I have to mention the two popular bars behind my place because if I needed to make sure my car was off the street by 6:00am on the 3rd, I’d have to park it the night of the 2nd, and the bar patrons and valets make sure there is no parking in my neighborhood after 7:00pm.

Well, all this fanciful what-iffing aside, I was not at all inconvenienced by the slurry work, and while I can’t recall if the notice I got had the actual words “thank you” on it, the entire thing was infused with an implied sense of “thank you.” Robb’s right. What other option was there? While I’m pleased as punch our street has been face-lifted, the fact that there was an implication in the notice that I or anyone else on Goshen Ave. had some kind of say in when the sealing would take place makes me a little miffed. If I had been inconvenienced by the work, their thank you would mean nothing.

As I was reading Robb’s post, I thought, “It’s just like the word ‘sorry.'” Anyone who listens to Le Show on KCRW (Podcast Icon or iTunes Podcast Icon) knows, via Harry’s Apologies of the Week, that “sorry” means nothing any more. I’ll be good God-damned if Robb didn’t say the same thing in his post as soon as I thought this.

I used to have a gigantic problem with this very issue. I had trouble saying “I’m sorry” to people because I had this fear that they would not believe me. Somehow, it was better to go through the anguish of wanting to say “I’m sorry,” to have the recipient of the unsaid apology think I was cruel, than it was to have them think I was inauthentic. It was one of those things that looked stupid anywhere outside of my own self. I knew this at the time, yet something in me could not allow for the possibility of being seen as fake.

(Coincidentally, see this other post by Robb, which discusses seeing things outside one’s own narrow experience.)

Now I am over that whole thing, and I can say “sorry” when I need to. But the word loses more weight every year. Especially now with a dumbass in the White House who not only never apologizes, but wouldn’t mean it if he did. I wonder if I’ll fall back into my old habit. One day, after listening to the Apologies of the Week, it will all be too much for me and I’ll distance myself from the disingenuous apologists by refusing to ever apologize again. I hope not. Perhaps to avoid this fate, I can come up with a new word, like the Brights did when faced with only tainted terms to describe their beliefs. Instead of “I’m sorry,” I can say, “I’m vermooed.”

Is it too much now to bring up marketing? You see, all this dilution of anything meaningful is marketing’s fault. Marketing has spent decades, even centuries, lying to people to achieve a certain result. Marketing now gets me 2 ounces less yogurt per container than I used to get. Marketing let OJ go free. Marketing is ruining the next-gen high-def disc format. Marketing makes it okay for the RIAA and MPAA to whine and whine and whine. Marketing got us into this stupid war “with” Iraq. And so marketing makes apologizing weak. How? By using it to project a certain image. How should a man who, say, spouts racist diatribes on the ball field be allowed off the hook? By apologizing. We all know someone like that doesn’t mean a word he’s saying, yet he says it anyway to satisfy those who are marketing him as innocent or misunderstood. Apologizing is the best way to get the public to think that you are taking responsibility for your own actions when really, at this stage in the game, it’s only being used to give the impression that you’re taking responsibility.

Idiotic though people may seem, they are cunning and learn much from the nonsense they are fed. If Fox News can get away with apologizing through sneering lips over something they knew very well they were doing in the first place, then so can Arnie Hoober in Alabama. The more Arnies there are that fake it, the harder it is for those who are trying to execute a bona fide apology.

I have to believe that the people in my life who I will ever need to apologize to will never mistake my words as false. I have to trust that those to whom I say thanks will know I mean it. I guess personal action on the individual level is the only way to counteract a global weakening of our most powerful sentiments. I hope so, because I will not be able to get used to saying “vermoo for your loss.”


Robb Expounded Thusly:

Amen! I was just biching, you were poetic. Well said.

I’m linking to you. I hope you don’t mind. And if you do…TS, I’m doing it anyway.

Thursday, October 6th, 2005 • 9:12pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

No TS here. Link away! And if you call what you write just “bitching,” I’d hate to see you at the height of your eloquence.

Funny how you have to be using eloquence when you use the word eloquence…

Friday, October 7th, 2005 • 10:40am • Permalink

SSneaky Expounded Thusly:

I must say, Steve, that your eloquence is moving. Moving my lunch back up my esophogus!!!

But seriously. Aside from the fact that everything you said is true, you have to go deeper than that. I think that the authenticity of a “sorry” you give to another you have wronged, or for whom you feel sympathetic, depends entirely on the honesty you have created with the recipient of your words. If you have a history of sincerity and caring for that person, they will never take your aplogy for anything other than what it is. If you have been delusive with this person in the past, then you might take more care in the future to avoid having to say sorry in the first place. They are much more likely to disbelieve you when you do say sorry.

What it boils down to is this: If you, unlike politicians and corporations, live up to your word and go the extra mile on occasion, people will always know that you are telling them the truth when you say you are sorry.

Monday, October 10th, 2005 • 9:25am • Permalink

Vomit-Inducing Steve Expounded Thusly:

Well, sorry to taint your throat with bile. Hope your lunch was a yummy one at least.

You know, when I think back to the apologizing anguish thing, it really was to people who, I think, would have trusted my apologies. That was the kicker. I knew they would listen and it’d be okay, but I couldn’t do it. I mean, the fact that I had to apologize in the first place was bad (’cause it meant I’d done something wrong), so the drama of trying to get that out was hard enough. Then to add on top of it the mental fun house… OY!

As for today, I have no idea if people trust me or not. I hope so, but I could be delusional! I do live in L.A., after all…

Monday, October 10th, 2005 • 12:09pm • Permalink


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