Monday, November 06, 2006

Not Always Smooth, But Doing Fine

I suppose you've read last week's news about the top U.S. evangelist who was busted for buying crystal meth from a gay hooker he's been seeing for the last three years. The whole sordid story just makes me wince and wonder how on earth a man who preaches the sanctity of marriage (between only a man and a woman, at that) can behave this way.

And in a horrible trainwreck-y way, you gotta wonder how exactly one apologizes to a spouse for having repeatedly hired a hooker, even if it was really only for a massage? Do you buy her a diamond ring, like Kobe Bryant? Fancy car? What is in alignment with Christian values?

One summer in college, I briefly dated a player. He was handsome, used to getting who he liked, charming, and clever. At some point, we had a tiff about something inconsequential, and I later found a bouquet of roses on my desk, along with a handwritten note of apology, each paragraph illustrated with a multi-colored drawing. I was flattered, gave him a hug, and all was forgiven.

Not long after, his landlady answered the phone when I called, and she addressed me by the wrong girl's name. I think she did it on purpose, as her way of warning me that he was bad news.

Much later, when I was dating an entirely better species of human being, I realized that sometimes, someone who apologizes beautifully is someone who has apologized a lot. And not for a good reason.

I kept that artful letter for a long time, because it made me more conscious of social graces, and the social "smoothness" that is so prized in today's sound-bite, media-trained world. Handling delicate feelings in the PTA power structure, apologizing for damaging a relationship, or strong-arming a relative into hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 20 – managing to do those things smoothly isn't easy, and doing them poorly looks and feels terrible.

However, smooth takes practice, and there are some things for which you might not want to be too practiced. Maybe you value directness over playing a political game, perhaps you'd rather change a holiday tradition rather than make someone an unhappy host, or you rarely do something that requires a deep apology.

And that's just fine.

7 comments:

Mamacita Tina said...

Good point about, "someone who apologizes beautifully is someone who has apologized a lot." Not a good thing. I guess we need to look for sincerity.

Mayberry said...

I was just about to quote that same line. Such a good insight.

Bob said...

Sobering comments

Kristen said...

You're so right - I'd never thought about the fact that someone who apologizes well might be someone to be more leary of...good point.

Mary P. said...

I think you're right. If it's too smooth, too easy, it's probably too practiced, particularly if you haven't been in the relationship for long, and you're still new to each other.

However, I do think that over the course of a long-term relationship, you are inevitably going to have many opportunities to apologize, and if you don't improve over the years, you're not trying hard enough.

Lady M said...

Yes, sincerity is the real measure.

Mary P - good point, one should be improving all the time!

Anonymous said...

I wanted to comment yesterday, and Blogger wouldn't let me (grrr...). So my eloquence is gone now, but I know I wanted to say something along the lines of 'what an insightful post, I never thought of that before.'