The author of the memoir Public Apology: In Which a Man Grapples With a Lifetime of Regret, One Incident at a Time reveals a few crucial times his spouse deserved a mea culpa.
By Dave Bry
1. Sorry for wearing sweatpants to our first dinner date. And then for writing about doing so in public. I take almost 100 percent responsibility for whatever embarrassment my behavior (and my willingness to discuss it with strangers) might have brought you during our 15 years together. Not 100 percent responsibility, though. A percentage point or two belongs to whatever Panglossian chip in your brain led you to believe sweatpants guy was marrying material.
2. Sorry for tricking you into thinking I didn't like to watch sports on TV. When we met, I was engaged in a six-year boycott of Major League Baseball, my childhood passion, in reaction to the players' strike that cancelled the 1994 World Series. As you know, in the time since we were married, I have ended that boycott. (It was 9/11 that did it. And the magical healing that the sport provided our country in the wake of tragedy. Or, at least, the healing it provided me, personally.) And now, I watch baseball every night of the summer. But I do know that it's not your favorite thing, to have the games on every night. I'm sorry for deceiving you this way, for snaring you with this sort of bait-and-switch. That said, I will point out that, when we were first dating, you successfully hid the fact that you would one day decide that your were "off" Ethiopian food. Even though I really like Ethiopian food. So we're sort of even there.
3. Sorry for breaking the light fixture when I tried to change the light bulb by the front door. And for shattering glass all over the floor of the kitchen when I tried to change the one in there. I work from home, while you go to an office. And I know it would be better for everyone if I was able to do minor household tasks without the story ending like a joke about how many people it should take to change a light bulb. (More than one of me, apparently.)
4. I'm sorry that I pushed you in front of me when we were coming out of Madison Square Garden that night and that man brandished a pistol and started screaming that he was going to shoot everybody on the sidewalk. Oh no, wait, that wasn't us. That was Frank Bascombe and his wife Ann, fictional characters from Richard Ford's novel Independence Day (and there is dispute, between them, as to what really happened.) I'm glad that wasn't us. I would hope I would not put your body between mine and a man holding a gun, I would hope I would jump in front of you, in fact. But then, hey, you never know how you're going to react in such a situation until such a situation arises. Anyway, I'm glad you love that book, as do I. That might be my very favorite novel, and it's nice that we share a taste in books.
5. Sorry for agreeing with you when you said, in the midst of a particularly bad one of your seasonal allergy attacks, that the fact that you'd been sneezing pretty much nonstop for the past half hour was "annoying." It was a little thing...a "yeah." Which I proceeded to make worse by adding, "Well, it kind of is..." This one was really bad. And I'm really sorry for it. We'd been carting the kid around Brooklyn all day, doing errands, and it had been a very long day. And I was tired. But you were also a sneezing, wheezing, miserable mess. We're a team, you and me. And when you're having a hard time, it's my job to lift my chin, straighten my back and pick up slack. Expressing my exasperation at a symptom that was, clearly, more of an annoyance for you than it was for me -- when you were feeling physically ill, suffering far worse than I was -- well, that's exposing a weak, selfish, craven part of myself that I'd prefer never to show anybody. Least of all, you, the person who makes me feel lucky, honestly lucky, each and every day that you stick around.