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 Antarctic and John living in the Arctic. 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.
Editor’s Note, 11/26: An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that Karen lives in the Arctic and John lives in the Antarctic. SorryWatch regrets the error. DAMMIT.