I use the word sorry too much. It doesn’t matter whether or not the situation I’m expressing sympathy about has anything to do with me. If it seems bad or painful, I’ll rush forward like a fat mother chicken and cluck my ‘I’m sorrys’ at you. In fact, the only times I’m reluctant to use the S word is when I’ve actually done things worth apologizing about. (This has only just occurred to me. Thank you, column for shining that light into the dank, drippy cave that is my personality. Try not to do it again.)
Many times, sympathy can be really irritating, for example when you bang your toe against a chair. As you hop around clutching your foot, howling with annoyance and despair (despair because your new pedicure has been ruined by the impact), the last thing you want to hear from the people around you is ‘sorry. I’m sorry. We’re sorry.’
Sympathy only makes a throbbing toe hurt more. I always feel like going up to those kindly, healthy-toed people and yelling: Is your sorry going to pay for another pedicure? Is it going to cure my blood clot? Is it going to catch and thrash that fat cat that made me stumble and hit my toe?!? Of course not!
Another no go area for sorry is wasted effort, as in the case of defective zippers. An entire day can be planned around a particular pair of jeans, you know? The way they gather at your ankles might make you walk differently. The way they hug your curves might make you sway a little bit more. When the treacherous zipper of the chosen jeans refuses to close and after 30 minutes of fiddling with it, you twist it off with a rough jerk of the wrist, you feel like sobbing. Like kicking a wall. Like biting a sweater. What you’re definitely not interested in receiving is a side-hug from a sympathetic sibling. You might end up biting them.
For chronic-over-apologisers, the word sorry doesn’t only apply to the stuff going on around them. Sometimes they find themselves saying/being sorry about the most natural things. Take Peter, a guest lecturer. During one of his 3 hour afternoon lectures, he let a few farts slip. These farts weren’t overly loud or smelly, so his reaction was completely exaggerated. He was not embarrassed, no. He was sorry; something that he made abundantly clear with the 1000 apologies he made before bolting out of the lecture room. He was so sorry that he failed to come back to teach for a week. I found that ridiculous.
Here are three other things that you shouldn’t ever feel sorry about. If the rest of the rest of the world is making you feel awkward or apologetic for falling in any of the categories below, let me know. Like Foreskin-man (have you met him? Google!) I have your back.
The stutter: Do your eyes glaze over with impatience when you’re talking to a stutterer? Do you snort or sigh or imitate or laugh at them? You’re a really fake person if you do. You shouldn’t even be reading this amazing magazine with those mean eyes of yours. Read only Kingo! Stutterers can’t help the way they speak and your behaviour isn’t making things easier for them.
Taste in clothes: If your neighbor loves white shoes, if my blouse puts you in mind of a snake fighting with a scarf or if your friend’s taste in ugly boots offends you, go buy yourself a bear of black shoes, plain t-shirts, sandals and a good dose of mind-your-own-wardrobe.
Bibliophilism: Hands up if you sleep with a book next to your head every night. Are all your books dog-eared and wrinkly because of all the positions you read them in? Can you can read as you walk or on bodas? Hey there, amazing person. I too do these things. We should hook up. This is what Jennifer Weiner has to say on the matter, “Never stop looking at the world, and never stop reading to find out what sense other people have made of it. If people give you a hard time and tell you to get your nose out of a book, tell them you’re working. Tell them its research. Tell them to pipe down and leave you alone”.
As published in S.V’s Discovery Magazine on 11-09-11.