It Apologizes (My Path of Totality)

At last night’s family dinner table, something apparently rarer than the total solar eclipse occurred: I apologized. Said I was “sorry” to my entire family. It was an off-the-cuff confession. Sincere, but not intended as a conversation stopper. I figured my flash of genuine contrition would be politely acknowledged and accepted, and we would all simply move along to the next order of business. Instead, I got stiff-legged cardigan-vested yuppie walking into a biker bar with the “zeeeeerrrriiiiiip” of the needle pulled off the vinyl record.

I have been a little extra cranky of late, you see. An expected but still unpleasant side effect of this Whole30 “diet” that reduces its adherents to The Great Santini, more or less. I arguably lean Santinian by default, too, if you believe my son Everett’s claim that I generally possess only two emotions: Angry and asleep. So if my mood swings swing beyond their already sizable parabola such that even I notice something is amiss, well then, something must really be amiss. So I owned it. Stepped into the breach with aplomb…

And was unceremoniously shoved over the cliff.

My wife Hilary has trained our children to respond to an earnest “I’m sorry” with an equally earnest “That’s OK.” It is a beautiful thing and it works. And I was counting on that ingrained behavior in that moment.

Instead, Everett waited a beat to leverage the pregnant pause. Then cooly observed, “Hmmm. It apologizes.”

You see, he got me twice: Once on simply pointing out that I am, apparently, insufficiently remorseful in general. And then again by calling attention to my sub-human, recent behavior. On par with other inanimate objects in our house. The car. A lamp. The TV. The toilet in the guest bathroom. And way beneath our dog, mind you — none of us would ever call her an “it.”

So there I was. Slump-shouldered. Empty-lunged. Forced toothless smile put up to give me time to process what had just happened. Trying to come up with a chuckle. Hoping someone would rise to my rescue to tell me what the hell Everett was trying to say. Alas, I sat unrescued. And it got me thinking.

Even above and beyond my hunger-driven antics, it occurs to me, I have plenty for which I should apologize: I frequently force my sons to eat Brussels sprouts, beets and bok choy. Sometimes all on the same dinner plate during the same dinner. I often drag one or both boys to some seemingly unpleasant physical chore: Pulling on a tight wetsuit and reluctant booties to surf, say. Or pumping up knobby tires for a brief mountain bike ride perfectly calibrated to reduce the odds of lactic acid to 0%. (Actually, I am the designated tire-pumper, so there is no cause for complaint in this instance.) Holding the dog’s leash for a millisecond during a hike while Hilary or I corral dog poop in a dog poop bag. And for sure I should apologize for not pulling Everett off the mound mid-inning when he requested an intervention during a poor Little League pitching outing.

If I think about it, I probably should apologize for just about everything. All of it. The totality, you might say. Yes, Everett, it most certainly does apologize. Though not nearly enough, historically. And I’m sorry about that. Fortunately for us, tonight will bring some new culinary horrors involving shaved carrots and sweet potatoes, I’m thinking. Wednesday looks perfect for a long bike ride on sore butts to the ballpark and back home again. And Friday? On Friday, we surf (with still-damp wetsuits and booties). So rest assured, my boy, there will be many more dinner table apologies to come.

Thanks for reading.

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