By Neil McKinnon
In a previous piece, I said that a uniquely Canadian characteristic is the tendency to preface every action and sentence with an apology, and that there is no circumstance where it is not appropriate for a Canadian to apologise. I used examples:
If someone bumps me in a crowd, I say, “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry I left my shin where you were going to kick.”
“I’m terribly sorry but I stepped right where your dog just defecated.”
“Please accept my apologies for putting my ribs in the way of your elbow.”
Unfortunately for Canadian pride, we appear to be in danger of losing our cherished spot atop the heap of international apologists. Folks in other places seem to be catching on. Recently there has been a world-wide flurry of apologetic words, many of which approach the skill and frequency of those employed by Canadians. We have witnessed professional athletes mistake steroids for everything from cold medications to chocolate chip cookies, politicians confuse noon-time orgasms for loving family relationships and televangelists misconstrue erotic back-alley encounters for the spread of salvation. All have apologised profusely to everyone from friends and family to fans, constituents, fellow citizens, voters, party members, their ancestors, the world-at-large and Santa Claus.
Our problem is that Canadian apologies are simple and private. In an effort to correct this situation and show other Canadians how we might recapture our pre-eminence in the field of apologetics, I have decided to go public with many of my past mistakes, particularly the ones that I failed to acknowledge at the time of the transgression.
Let me begin by apologising to my parents for the stress that my birth caused, not just to my mother who labored long hours to bring me into this world, but also to my father who became so chagrined when he first saw me that he exclaimed, “Christ, he looks just like a fried egg!”
I take full responsibility for my early arrival and accept that my inability to hang on until after the wedding is no doubt due to a congenital character flaw. It is also appropriate to apologise to my wife Judy and to thank her for standing by me during recent difficult times.
As well, I would like to apologise to the chicken that perished unnecessarily in 1951 while I and my brothers were conducting research to try and discover what the term dead weight might mean. Again I wish to say how grateful I am that my wife Judy chose to stay by my side. What a comfort she has been these past few months.
It is well beyond the time for me to express my sorrow at the grief that I caused the parents of Lisa, my first girlfriend. They returned home early one afternoon and found the two of us nude on their kitchen table. I acknowledge that Lisa’s father was absolutely correct. We had not removed our clothes to clean grease spatters acquired while deep frying a flounder. Let me just say that I would not have been able to make it through all of the present setbacks without the help and support of my family, especially my wife, Judy.
When I was sixteen, a man named Phil moved next door to my parent’s house. Phil owned a brand new Ford Thunderbird. One evening, when my parents were away, I asked Phil if I could borrow his Thunderbird to go across town to visit my dying grandmother. Next day, the police found Phil’s car on its roof next to second base on the high school ball diamond. Contrary to what I claimed at the time, it had not been commandeered at gun point by Bonnie and Clyde who, so far as I know, never made it to Saskatchewan and, in any case, they were no longer functioning by 1956.
If it is any comfort, Phil, you should know that your Thunderbird went faster in reverse around the base path than did any of my friend’s cars going forward. Also, I need to say sorry to my grandmother who lived to be one-hundred and two and who, notwithstanding what I claimed, was not a party to my deception and who, so far as I know, was never associated with Bonnie and Clyde. At this time, I would like to thank my new partner Adele who, unlike Judy, says that she will stick with me no matter what happens.
Once, in Toronto, I met a lovely young lady named Gail who sat next to me at All-Star Wrestle-Mania. I want to assure Gail that there really was nothing in the shape of her eyeball to indicate that she may have had a fatal disease. No matter what I said, I am not a doctor. I acknowledge that locking ourselves in the wrestler’s changing room so that I could perform a complete physical exam was not proper medical procedure. Please accept my heartfelt contrition. Also, I need to apologise to Killer Konetskey for using his dressing table without permission and to assure him that my back healed quickly once I was out of traction. My new partner has been steady as a rock. Thank you, Adele. I’ll repay the money once I catch up on the alimony.
I would like to apologise to Adele’s husband, Gary. I understand that it was your bank account that Adele dipped into when she so generously agreed to help me out of my financial difficulties. Let me reiterate my promise to repay the debt as soon as all of my obligations have been taken care of and as soon as I find work.
Speaking of work, I wish to say how sorry I am to Mr. Ken Alcott at ABC Trucking. I confess that my experience as a long haul trucker was not quite what I claimed when I applied for the job. In fact, it was limited to the time I was hitch-hiking on Route 23 and was picked up by a man named Armand who let me drive while he and his girlfriend fumbled each other in the passenger seat of his half-ton. I now recognise that this episode did not qualify me to drive an eighteen-wheeler. I should also acknowledge the problems I caused Mr. Alcott’s insurance company after the accident. Unfortunately they discovered how little blood was left in my personal stone. I would like to say how well my new wife, Laynee, helped me recover from my depressed state after Adele returned to her husband. Congratulations, Gary. The best man won and again, thanks to you and Adele for your financial help.
I should not conclude without apologising to my son Will who has limited intelligence. I fully understand my comparison of your early musical efforts to the squealing of a wounded pig has a great deal to do with your present incarceration. And also, before I end, I must say I’m sorry to Laynee, my new wife. The fact that I fathered a baby with your Aunt Lottie in 1967 was as much of a surprise to me as it was to you.
These are just a few examples. Now, if other Canadians will only go public with their own past indiscretions, it will go a long way toward us regaining our lost status in the world.
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