“Words, they cut like a knife, cut into my life
I don’t want to hear your words
They always attack, please take them all back”
Those words were infamously sung by Madonna in the aptly titled song, “Words.” It’s off of her “Erotica” album, so you’re forgiven if you didn’t make it past all the sex talk and whips to hear this hidden gem.
But there’s truth to her lyrics. Words can cause longer-lasting wounds than any actual weapons, and definitely cause a lot more trouble. As someone who has no filter and often ends up speaking before his brain has time to catch up, I have put my foot in my mouth plenty of times.
Most of the time, in hindsight, this leads to a humorous story where my friends just laugh and shrug it off as if it’s completely normal… Like the time I accidentally bought $5.00 of crack.
After a night at the bars, a friend and I went to get pizza. I had consumed a few cocktails and the friendly neighborhood drug dealer called out to us, “You need any weed?”
Jokingly, I held up my hand saying no, and responded, “I’m sorry, I only do coke!”
Well, it turns out he had that too. So he started following us and told us to wait up. I tried to tell him that I wasn’t interested, but he was quite persistent. After a block, I turn to him and say I only have $5.00 on me.
At this point, we reach the pizza place and there are two cops standing outside, so I say, “If I give you the five dollars, will you leave us alone.”
My friend also says, “If you guys are going to do a drug deal, can you not do it directly in front of the police.”
Well, wouldn’t you know it, I found the one drug dealer who doesn’t accept charity. So, he opens the little baggie and tells me to hold out my hand. Rule of thumb: Listen when a drug dealer tells you to do something – especially when he doesn’t take no for an answer. I open my palm and he places a little rock in it, then takes the money and walks away.
Dumbfounded, I walk into the pizza place and show my friend the present I received. His response: “That’s not coke, that’s a crack rock. Now throw it away.”
You would think that after 30-plus years, I would learn that sometimes it’s better to just stay quiet. But, well, what story ever starts with, I didn’t say anything?
Did you notice, though, what I said to the drug dealer initially? I said, “I’m sorry…”
I am a serial apologizer. It is something that I say without even always realizing it. As children, it’s one of the first few words that everyone is taught. Some of the most important words are “please” and “thank you”, followed quickly by “sorry”. I’ll be the first to admit; sometimes I’m not the best at saying thank you. I can get caught up in the moment and boneheadedly forget to verbalize my appreciation. One thing that I have never been accused of is not apologizing.
I apologize whenever I feel like I am bothering someone or being a nuisance, on top of when I might do something wrong. So, if I perceive that I am doing either of those, I’ve got an apology locked and loaded. Some say that this might be due to a guilty conscience. While I haven’t murdered anything other than an order of cheese fries, there might be some truth to that. As I said, my mouth opens before I have time to fully formulate my thoughts. So, sometimes hurt feelings occur. I never intend to hurt anyone’s feelings, it just happens.
Constantly apologizing, however, can make people think that you a doormat, even if you are just trying to be nice. Recently, I have been trying to be more cognizant of when I apologize for things, and catching myself before the words escape my mouth. You know what I have found? No one cares.
Don’t get me wrong, if I were to accidentally run over someone’s cat with a lawn mower while cutting the lawn and didn’t apologize, they wouldn’t be happy. Granted, even if I apologized, they probably still wouldn’t be happy. But I’m not a monster and will still apologize for anything that *actually* deserves an apology.
Sorry, but beyond that, you aren’t going to get any more apologies from me. It’s freeing to not worry about trying to gauge how the other person is feeling in every situation of every day. And quite frankly, it’s almost summer and I have to worry about my beach body. That’s almost a fulltime job, so there’s going to be no apologies for minor offenses this year.