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Quiet Desperation

We need to apologize for this sorry state of affairs


Brenda Lee’s comin’ on strong. I’m sorry, so sorry, please accept my apology.

For what I said in the high school cafeteria to Dottie Danford.

For what I said in the art building elevator at UCLA to Magenta O’Toole.

For what I said at an art reception 30 years ago to one of my students.

Apologies — almost all of them coming from men — are flying around like locusts. One begets another out of someone else, out of someone else, out of someone else.

The male animal isn’t looking so good right now. Men are apologizing for things they said or did when Truman was in office.

Apologies in the moment count the most. Going back decades reminds me of the joke about the farmer’s new scarecrow.

I’ll get to that.

I am outspoken. I forgot to pick up my filter at the cleaners. It’s been there for about 10 years.

I am blunt, I blurt, I often don’t speak softly. Sometimes it’s called for.

We tried a gelato for the first time. It comes in a twist-top container. The twist-top didn’t twist.

I used jar openers on it, I tapped it with a spoon. Finally, I took a hammer to it, and loosened the top.

I expressed myself to the home office down there in Texas.

It’s almost impossible to say or write anything without offending someone somewhere.

I might have offended Brenda Lee for getting her involved in this.

If that’s true, I’m sorry. Lee (1944) was the top-selling (solo) female vocalist in the 1960s. “Little Miss Dynamite” is 4 feet 9 inches.

One of her hits, “Comin’ on Strong,” is referred to in Golden Earring’s song “Radar Love.”

I’m sorry about all of these song references, but I can’t help myself.

I am not going to mention you-know-whom, who is the most talked-about offender right now.

Or you-know-whom, who paid someone $32 million not to blab about his indiscretions.

Or you-know-whom, who used to perform comedy at the defunct Turn of the Century nightclub on East Hampden.

There are crimes in all of this, and there are misdemeanors.

Stepping on someone’s toes, physically or philosophically, happens all of the time to all of us.

You’re having a bad day, and it shows up in a barbed comment to a co-worker.

“Why did I say that?”

I know someone who can be judgmental and you don’t even know it. I don’t know how she does it. She is tactfully doubtful, and tactfully critical.

The only thing I have going for me is humor. I try to throw a little humor into it whenever I complain.

The lawn service wanted $136 an hour to clean up the leaves in my backyard.

I told them what I could get for $136 an hour. Please use your imagination. Otherwise, I would have to apologize to my team, the organization, and the community.

Here’s something I learned after the incident with the student.

Don’t ruin a good apology with a bad excuse.

If you are late, apologize for being late, and leave it at that.

“The dog ate my car keys” implicates the dog, and then you have to apologize to the dog.

The farmer’s new scarecrow was so effective that crows were returning corn they had stolen years and years ago.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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