Apologies are awkward

One reason so many apologies are terrible is that apologizing well is HARD. Look how excruciatingly awkward John’s apology to Karen is. Karen was right to be angry when John impugned her fishing and swimming.

Bravo to John for apologizing in person, and for giving Karen the opportunity to close the door in his face. Less good, however, is John’s failure to say up front what it is he is apologizing for. (Good for Karen, letting him squirm like that and not leaping in to fill the conversational silences. DRAG HIM, KAREN.) He eventually does get the words out, but it takes a while, and naming your sin is an important part of good apologies.

If John had thought ahead about what he planned to say, and rehearsed in front of a mirror, this could have been far less awkward. He could have demonstrated that he understood just HOW he knows that she is a good hunter and swimmer (by pointing out, say, that penguins can hold their breath for six minutes underwater, while polar bears can only do so for two minutes, or he could have noted how effectively her supraorbital gland filters saltwater from her bloodstream as she fishes, or he could have indicated that he is totally jazzed by the series of spines pointing down her throat that allow her to ingest krill without chewing). Instead he stammers out that she’s good at catching “little fishes” and says that her hunting isn’t really important to him, which is kind of condescending?

But you know what? It doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what Karen thinks, and Karen is willing to forgive and go to the movies with him on Saturday, so you go girl. (It matters what other people think if John broke the law — if he was abusing Karen, or if Karen were an underage penguin —  in which case her forgiveness could be noted in criminal proceedings but is not the final word. But it sounds more like he was a boorish bearish dick, maybe trying to act like a big macher in front of the other wildlife at the bar.)

I am hopeful. I want those two crazy kids to be happy together. But KAREN, if he insults you again, you kick his vanilla ass to the curb and go clubbing like a baby seal.

Also, I hate to be a wet glacier, but I do have to say that I am unsure about the long-term prospects for this relationship, what with Karen living in the Arctic and John living in the Antarctic. But stranger things have happened! I’m a New Yorker who dated a San Francisco raver for much of the ’90s and now we have two children so I AM ROOTING FOR YOU, JOHN AND KAREN!

Hat tip to Friend of SorryWatch Aviva W. for the heads up.

Posted in Animals and Apologies, Funny-on-Purpose Apologies, Good apologies, TV and Movie Apologies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We’re doing this why?

Guest post from SorryWatch Senior Tennis Correspondent Wendy Grossman.

Why is this happening to me?

One of the most commonly heard complaints of the suspicious tennis fan is this: the draw is fixed. The suspicious tennis fan is delusional, as I established last year. Draws are public. The press is there, also at least one professional player and representatives of other players to watch for foul play. They do whatever they can to dress up these draw ceremonies – draw rituals? – into something vaguely entertaining. One or two tournament representatives make speeches. At London’s Queen’s Club, a formally dressed steward in white gloves asks randomly selected audience members to draw a slip of paper out of a silver bowl; at other events someone hits a button on a computer. But there’s always some fanfare.

This year, the men’s tour (the ATP/Association of Tennis Professionals) opened a new event in Milan, the second-to-last-week-of-the-year “Next Gen” event for the best eight players aged between 18 and 21. The idea was to try to open up the game, which has been dominated by four now-30-somethings for more than a decade, to a new generation of players and fans. Like the tour finals, this is a round robin event in which each member of two four-man groups plays against each other to determine the semifinalists. The “draw,” therefore, consists of determining who goes in which group.

Someone decided to make this more interesting to view. So, yes, an apology will soon be needed.

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Take an apology lesson from Thor

Last year, SorryWatch approvingly noted that actor Chris Hemsworth made a good apology for insensitive behavior. It turns out that his character Thor is also a good apologizer! In a deleted scene from the first Thor movie in 2011, we learn that during the Asgardian god’s time on earth, he grows from imperious musclebound war-prince to sensitive dude who has learned to apologize.

Remember this diner scene?

Later in the movie, Thor helps his friend Jane make breakfast for her colleagues and refrains from hurling drinking receptacles. Go, Thor. But he goes further: In a scene left on the cutting room floor, he shows us that he regrets the crockery-shattering public outburst earlier in the film and wants to make amends.

What has Thor done right, apology fans?

He says “excuse me,” indicating he knows he’s interrupting Isabel’s work. He uses her name, which shows he’s paid attention. He tries to make amends and offer reparations (new cup). He is sincere, but he does not waste Isabel’s time or emotional energy; he does what has to be done and gets out of Dodge.

A very minor quibble: Ordinarily SorryWatch prefers “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” to “Please forgive me.” The “I” construction shows that the speaker recognizes their own fault, while “please forgive me” puts too much onus on the listener. The listener is the one who is owed something; the person who is apologizing should not be asking for a boon. Forgiveness is a gift. The person acknowledging that they’re in the wrong should not be asking for a gift at the same time that they’re supposed to be genuflecting. Right?

HOWEVER. Thor is not of our earth. He is still learning to speak in a less formal Midgardian manner. Dude is a god; he’s not accustomed to being a supplicant. We’ll let his phrasing go, because for Thor, saying “Please forgive me for my behavior” is a LOT. Our buff blond hammer-wielding pal has clearly come a long way. It should be possible for mere mortals, too.

 

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all the subtext in Kevin Spacey’s apology

Kevin Spacey would like you to know some things!

1. GARSH THIS IS NEWS TO ME THAT I AM HEARING FOR THE FIRST TIME EVAIR
2. I FORGET IF IT HAPPENED
3. IF IT HAPPENED IT WAS THREE DECADES AGO (when I was a grown man and he was a child but SHHHH)
4. IS “IF I DID IT” TAKEN AS A BOOK TITLE?
5. WOAH IF I DID IT THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN DEEPLY INAPPROPRIATE!
6. DUDE I WAS WICKED DRUNK (if it happened which it probably didn’t)
7. SORRY ABOUT YOUR FEEEEELINGS ANTHONY (that are your feelings and have nought to do with me)
8. “ALL THESE YEARS” — you are clearly clinging to your sense of victimization, sorry ur so stuck
9. GOSSIP ABOUT MOI IS MOTIVATED BY MY UN-HOLLYWOOD LOVE OF PRIVACY
10. LOOK OVER HERE BRIGHT SHINY OBJECT I’M COMING OUT COMING OUT WHOOOO COMING OUT MAKE THAT YOUR LEDE NEWS FRENS
11. I AM A BRAVE COURAGEOUS HERO OF COURAGE, A PROUD GAY MAN OF PROUDNESS GO ME

We at SorryWatch should not have to say this but: Spacey’s statement (issued in response to this) is not an apology. It is a diversion, a distraction, a parry. It is dishonesty. Homosexuality is nothing to apologize for; it has nothing to do with pedophilia. As George Takei noted:

Takei is right, of course. Harassment and assault are abuses of power; the abuser’s sexual identity is not relevant. But it’s no accident that in this statement, Spacey doesn’t come out [sic] and say what he’s apologizing for. He’s implying that he’s being persecuted for not being out of the closet. This is offensive. Rapp was 14 (and look at him at 14! a WEE BABBY!) when, he says, Spacey picked him up, threw him on a bed, and climbed on top of him. And despite Spacey’s airy attempts at discrediting Rapp, Buzzfeed didn’t merely repeat Rapp’s allegations; the site talked to folks Rapp has been telling this story to since 1990. (And for whatever it’s worth, in 1992 or 1993, when I was a journalist at Sassy, a different underage theater actor told me he’d had a brief sexual relationship with Spacey, who was then in his mid-30s.)

The last line of Spacey’s statement is confusing. (Almost as confusing as serial harasser Leon Wieseltier’s “shaken apology” to his former employees — what is a shaken apology? is the apology shaken because the apologizer had had absolutely no idea until this very moment that he’d done anything wrong? because he’d been outed? because he’d, you know, HARASSED PEOPLE?) What behavior, exactly, is Spacey claiming he needs to examine? What, precisely, demands sudden openness and honesty? His drinking, maybe? I think? Honestly, the sentence is so Keyser-Söze-esque in its cageyness, it’s hard to say.

Regardless, it’s a vile non-apology. To quote Spacey’s character John Williamson in Glengarry Glen Ross: “FUCK you.”

Posted in Artistic apologies, Bad Apologies, Celebrity Apologies, Social Media Apologies, Sorry If, Twitpologies | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

You asked. Ugh, fine. Here’s Harvey Weinstein.

As you know, on October 5, the New York Times broke the news (or rather, reported extensively on an open secret and got on-the-record confirmation from famous actresses) about years of sexual harassment claims about producer Harvey Weinstein. Continue reading

Posted in Bad Apologies, Bropology, Media Apologies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

G’mar Tov, to all our Yom Kippur observers

Cute kid, lousy shofar-blowing technique.

As Yom Kippur nears, there are two traditional things celebrants say to each other. G’mar chatima tova and g’mar tov. Careful readers will note that the three-word and two-word expressions are similar! And both can tell us something instructive about saying sorry.

Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur urge us to ponder how we’re going to do better in the New Year (5778, for those keeping score at home). We’re supposed to apologize to those we’ve wronged — human, divine, self — as an important step in starting anew.

You can’t simply start over. Jews do not do the whole clean slate thing. Have you met us? We revel in guilt and ambiguity. Before we can start again, we have to finish what we’ve left undone. G’mar tov means, literally, “finish well.” It’s what we say as the metaphorical gates of heaven are beginning to close, as the chance for tying up loose ends disappears. G’mar chatima tova literally means “good finished sealing” — idiomatically, it means “may you be inscribed for good,” as in, “may God write your name in the Book of Life,” which, y’know, heavy, man. The tradition holds that one’s name is written on Rosh Ha’Shanah and sealed on Yom Kippur.

According to the delightful Balashon: The Hebrew Language Detective, g’mar, the word for finish, is related to the word g’mal, which means to ripen or wean. Ripening and weaning are both kinds of finishing. A ripened fruit has finished growing; it’s become full and complete. A weaned baby has begun the process of being self-sustaining; no longer being dependent on breast milk is the first step to becoming self-supporting, self-nourishing.

It’s not too much of a stretch to see that finishing something unfinished, achieving fullness and completeness, and feeling self-nourished are all connected to the art of apology. When we apologize well, despite the difficulty, we gain all these good things.

Not so incidentally, g’mar also means “to learn.” (Fellow Jewish Day School grads will recall studying the Gemara.) The etymology makes sense: When you learn, you deduce. You complete a chain of ideas and reasoning. You finish hearing or seeing or reading a thing, and you begin processing what you’ve heard or seen or read.

Again, hello: Apology-relevant. Good apologies have a learning curve. Coming to the conclusion that yes, you really should apologize, is its own deductive and logical act. (Pondering why good apologies are so darn rare, when WE ALL KNOW HOW TO DO THEM, COME ON, is a learning experience in and of itself.)

Happy New Year and g’mar tov to our friends who swing that way. Love, humility and justice to everyone, year-round.

Oh! And! If you want to hear Snarly talking about apology on the Unorthodox podcast two years ago — she forgot to share it then, sue her — you can! If you’d like to read some musings about the dangers of self-forgiveness — such a friggin’ buzzword right now, and a concept that has its place but NOT TOO MUCH OF A PLACE, PLEASE, go here. And you might or might not wish to ponder some smart musings about whether to forgive Trump voters, involving MORE SPLENDID HEBREW LINGUISTICS! (The word mechilah, to forgive, is related to the word machol, dance…as author David Ingber tells us, forgiveness is a dance; “a process, not an event.”) The piece is much more nuanced than you might expect. Which is good, since Snarly’s non-nuanced, immediate reaction to the suggestion she forgive Trump voters is MAY YOUR FACE BE SEALED IN THE BOOK OF SHUT-UP.

Nope.

 

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I’m just a hothead & it’s just tennis

 

Photo: Tatiana from Moscow, Russia. https://www.flickr.com/photos/kulitat/15803357184/ Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Sessista? Me?

Fabio Fognini was having a bad moment at the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, New York. Actually, 3 bad moments. In the singles, Stefano Travaglia, was beating him. In the process of losing he had 3 temper tantrums.

These were directed at umpire Louise Engzell. Fognini, who is Italian, disputed her decisions by calling Engzell, who is Swedish, “troia” and “bocchinara.”

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Vote for me! I have lucid intervals!

Kimberley Paige Barnette is running as a Republican for mayor of Charlotte, NC. Last month she participated in a candidate debate and said some noteworthy things. She didn’t love the poor, whom she said should be discouraged from coming to Charlotte, because they don’t have much money to spend. Except, she thinks, on expensive cars. She spoke to transgender bathroom choice, taking the I’ll-be-the-gender-judge approach.

She expressed disapproval of the people’s right to peacefully assemble. (As mentioned, in fact GUARANTEED, in the FIRST AMENDMENT. Of the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, Kimberly Paige.) She said protests are “expressive of Democratic behavior.” She said “As mayor, what I would like to discourage is assembly. Protests are confrontational, they’re chaotic, they scare people. I believe there’s a better way to express yourselves.”

As in a recent Facebook posting, in which she expressed herself by saying people should “Vote for me!” with the following argument: “REPUBLICAN & SMART, WHITE, TRADITIONAL”.

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