An Apology by Richard Bleil
So, my prom was rather stressful. My long-term regular readers know this already, but without the humorous slant on the story, it was really not fun. By the time the prom rolled around, it was clear that my date was far more sexually advanced than I, and she made no secret about it. Fairly routinely, we would take a short trip out to a nearby lake and enjoy the public areas. During the prom, periodically and routinely throughout the night, she was drop “hints” to me about her desires. She told me, several times, that in her last prom, she and her prom date went to the lake and didn’t come home until seven in the morning. Had she known my parents, she would have known that this just wasn’t going to happen. She became so irritating about it that eventually I responded, “well, it won’t happen tonight.”
It was just a stressful night for me. My date and my friend’s simply did not get along well, the girl I wanted to go to prom with was there without a date (although she probably would have turned me down even if I had asked), the night was very expensive, and we just weren’t getting along. Finally, I drove her home. Sitting in the car, she asked if I would walk her to the door. That’s when I did something that haunts me to this day. I simply said, “no”.
It was rude and crass. Granted, I was only eighteen, but I have regretted it ever since, and dwell on it often just as I am tonight. My only saving grace is that at least I did sit and watch her until she was safely inside, but if I could go back to do it over again, I would do it differently.
The reality is that, in this world, we simply cannot live without disappointing people. Some of it might be very slight, like somebody missing an exit because they were accidentally cut off. And sometimes it’s more serious. I know that I’ve disappointed many people, many of them being female with hopes or interest. Some of them I remember, and they probably do as well, some of which I remember, and she (or he) does not, and some which she (or he) will remember that I don’t. Heck, some of them might be incidents that neither of us remember. But I know that I, personally, was the source of these hurts and disappointments, and for this, I do deeply and sincerely apologize.
This might seem like a crass and broad stroke way to apologize, maybe even a cowardly way to handle it, but I can assure you that my heart is in the right place. I never want to hurt anybody. I try very hard to be an upright and good person, and when I do hurt somebody, I feel terribly about it.
Sometimes you have to hurt people on purpose, like the student who came to my office to tell me that she loved me and was ready to leave her husband and children just to be with me. I told her that she has obligations to her family, and that she really doesn’t know the real me, the insecure, injured me who has no self-confidence outside of the classroom, and I encouraged her to return to her family. A year later, I received an email from her, the first and last time I had heard from her since she finished my course. In it, she said she had left her family, joined a nunnery, and said that I was still the last thought on her mind every night, and the first every morning. I hurt her terribly trying to do the right thing, and yet, I still occasionally suffer from that incident at night.
If I’ve hurt anybody, and they are reading this today, I doubt that they are feeling any better. But it’s an effort with the best of intentions. For what it’s worth, I do go over past events in my mind, usually at night. I often call these my “demons”, and I’ve lost significant amounts of sleep time wrestling with them. If there’s a silver lining, I think that I’m a better person today, more sensitive and more aware of the impacts, good bad or indifferent, of my actions. If anybody does feel that perhaps I owe them more than this meager effort, I do invite them to reach out to me.