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 Texas : Features : Humor : Column - "A Balloon In Cactus"

Larry O'Donnell's Apology

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand

The public is inundated with apologies lately, including one from Larry O'Donnell for insensitively using the word "Master" when he wasn't explaining his relationship to a dog. Mark Sanford apologized, too, for preferring Tangoing to hiking, but he wasn't sorry enough to quit being Governor of South Carolina. All of Canada apologized for treatment of former students of Indian Residential Schools and NATO apologized to Pakistan for recent 'copter strikes into tribal areas. They say Michael Steele is preparing an apology for not apologizing for his daily meal of toes, some of which he stepped on and some of which are attached to the foot in his mouth.

Some say this sorry trend was started by Bill Clinton who didn't exactly apologize for not having sex with "that woman." Even before that, on a recording of his conversation with Gennifer Flowers he was heard saying that then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo "acts like" a Mafioso." First, Clinton denied it was his voice on the tapes, then he sent Cuomo a letter of apology, suggesting that, if elected, he might appoint Cuomo to the Supreme Court. Twice elected president, he never named Cuomo to the court.

Mel Gibson apologized and sent big flowers to a female officer, one of the cops who arrested him on a DUI. Apparently, her ire was raised when Mel allegedly called one of her body parts a sweet name. Mel also apologized to the male cops, but neglected to send flowers. He then apologized profusely by phone to Hollywood biggies for calling them names not in keeping with Christian beliefs. Seems as though everybody's still mad at Mel, even though he's trying to mend fences almost as hard as Tom Cruise.

Tom surreptitiously drove to the home of Brooke Shields to make a "heartfelt apology" for having said publicly that her post partum depression was exaggerated, if not totally untrue, based on his religious non-belief in psychiatrists and anti-depressants. He must've been better than Mel at saying he's sorry because Brooke Shields told Jay Leno "... and through it all, I was so impressed with how heartfelt [Cruise's apology] was, and I didn't feel at any time that I had to defend myself, nor did I feel that he was trying to convince me of anything other than the fact that he was deeply sorry. And I accepted it." In good faith, she probably also apologized to Tom for being so much taller.

Why not revise history some more and tell our school kids that there was no Civil War because Grant and Lee just apologized to each other at the beginning instead of all that sword-breaking stuff at Appamatox? Besides, kids would have shorter history lessons to memorize, and then the media would have Civil War Deniers right along with Holocaust Deniers, Global-Warming Deniers and President-Obama-was-born-in-America-deniers.

What if McDonald's had just told 79-year-old Stella Liebeck they were really sorry she burned herself when she placed a hot cup of their coffee between her knees? They could've saved half a million dollars. That's a hefty portion of the $1.3 million sale of coffee they make every single day.

Even though the Pope continues to apologize for all molestation transgressions of the Roman Catholic Church, I would've been happy if he had just had Sister Andrea call me up and say she was sorry for knocking my knuckles with a hard ruler back at Sacred Heart in New York.

Of course, some apologies that should've been made never were. Former-President Bush ought to have apologized to the American people for mangling the word "nuclear" even though he married a school teacher. I suppose we could tell our children he's not very good at words, right after we tell them former-President Clinton's not very good at oaths and President Obama's not very good at public options.

Larry Summers, Director of National Economic Council, apologized to women everywhere when he was President of Harvard, for sort of saying he thought women in science were less capable than men. He said nothing, however, about science's findings that the brain of a woman is smaller than that of a man. He must have assumed science was referring to head size.

Apologies even enter American justice; in capital crimes, the jury can find the defendant guilty because "He didn't show remorse." On the other hand, one man was so broken up over his crime that the jury didn't even want to acknowledge his confession and found him not guilty. Not guilty by what? By reason of I'msorriness?

There are quite a few online websites devoted to anonymous apologies and confessions. This would presumably alleviate the need to apologize publicly, since whining is so much less embarrassing than groveling. There used to be one called www.notproud.com, which called itself "a delicious and compelling catalog of shame." They had subsites named after the seven deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Anger, with an eighth: Miscellaneous. I don't know what would've gone under "miscellaneous," unless they're leaving room for things like being on your cell phone while driving in traffic, wearing Lady GaGa's castoffs to school, or telling people you're booked on Oprah when you're not. They've been superseded more or less by pre-postsecret.com, which has notproud's archives.

There are quite a few apologies on these websites, with rather dicey language but that's okay -- all are anonymous though some seem to have been written by people with minds of cement.

Probably the least offensive apologies are at www.JoeApology.com, where apologies are so gentle ("I'm sorry I like Ben & Jerry's so much"), you know these people could never be in politics.

Another confession website is www.RawConfessions.com, whose motto isn't as catchy as notproud's. Theirs is "Confess or Digress." Each of their categories seems to have the same confessions by the same people. Apparently, they know what they did, they just don't know where it goes.

www.GroupHug.us/ assigns random numbers to people eager to confess. Someone wrote, "It actually feels kind of good to know that someone will read it." Sure, if the someone who reads it isn't Sister Andrea or she'd find you, whoever and wherever you are, and give you a knuckle sandwich.

People get quite earthy with their language so if you check out these sites, be prepared for a quick exit. It's surprising how many randy people are out there who want to look in other people's windows. Everyone seems to want to confess something, and I'm no different. I confess to wanting a karmic fusion with Kiefer Sutherland. Maybe if I send him some big flowers, he'll call me. Then I can apologize.

Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
October 12, 2010 column

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