Thursday, January 19, 2012

Acts of Contrition

“I’m sorry I told you that.”  I said to old friend several months ago on the telephone. “And I am sorry I called.”

The topic didn’t really matter but I could sense the head shaking even though my friend was several hundred miles away.

“You know what is wrong with your statement, “ he shot back.

I sighed. “ I know, I know, it’s the “sorry” part," I answered like a scolded child in front of a principal. Polite but contrite.   I never quite understood it, but I now realize that the Catholic school of my youth actually did do a number on me.

I see it in other woman approximately my age and from similar backgrounds:  A blogger friend of mine who grew up in the same city, people I went to school with, even my sister.

My Blogger Friend  recently wrote an entry onto a popular business site.  She is an amazing writer but like most writers who churn out material on a daily basis, every entry is not brilliant nor a masterpiece.  I read the blog and found the information clear but the language a bit stilted.  It is business information not Melville, for Godsakes. It got its message across.  End of story.  Perhaps it wasn’t just her day.

Someone left a particularly nasty comment.

She posted an apology.  Her words to me sounded just like a wounded child.  She bowed at the altar.

So I thought.

Is it a self confidence thing?  Is it a catholic school girl thing?  “I know I am right Father, but pardon me for thinking this?" I think about the whole Catholic thing of calling priests “Father.”  Why are you always a penitent child in the eyes of that Church?

My sister last year went on Jeopardy.  It was a life long dream of hers: a perfect outlet for her near encyclopedic memory.  She did well but when the final Jeopardy answer came she got it wrong and lost a whole lot of money.  It’s a game.  I was so proud of her anyway. But it was her response to Alex Trebek that made me want to slap her.  She was contrite in the most girlish way possible.  “Oh I'm sorry Mr. Trebek.”  Her body language said it too.  If I could send a kick through the TV screen I would have.    

I thought about ending this blog the other night. I felt guilty. I have written in the most personal way possible but in the most evasive one too.  I usually write these things at night in the quiet of my basement office.  Just me, the dogs and a cat or two hugging the heat of the hard drive.  I wrote in what was supposed to be my last entry that I enjoyed the writing exercise, that I have been through the wringer lately in ways I can’t really express, that most of my demons are out in blogs posted or not, and thank you for your time.  A song from Elton John/Bernie Taupin came to mind:

                        I’m sorry I took your time,
I am a poem that  doesn’t rhyme,
just turn back a page, I’ll waste away….
                                          -"Goodbye"  from "Madman Across the Water"
                                             Elton John/Bernie Taupin

I might as well cut and pasted  the “Act of Contrition.”  Bless me Father for I have sinned….

Instead, I wrote to my friend the blogger about her  “nasty” post.  In her infinite wisdom  she set me straight.  “I posted that apology, yes”  she wrote, “but the language  in the apology was such that it punted traffic to my other 3 blogs.”

In the real blogosphere, hits are money. She won after all.

Smart Girl.  I have a great teacher.

I said awhile ago I really do not care who reads this. In the words of Joan Didion, "I write entirely to find out what I am thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means.  What I want and what I fear." No apologies.  No acts of contrition. You can read this or not.  I don't care.  Just realize that I have to write it.  I am not sorry and I am not going anywhere.

1 comment:

  1. You bet, we Catholic femmes got really messed up.