When I read Miss Manners‘ column this morning (well, really it was Sunday’s column), I knew I’d read it–and even written about it!–before. So imagine my surprise when in the deep little help please archives, I couldn’t find the post that I was sure would contain precisely the phrase I recognized in the column.
I broadened my search. And, lo and behold, I found the post. But guess what–I never found the column. I know, I would bet the farm if I had one, that in early 2009 Amy published this letter from a woman who spills things on purpose to give her an excuse to clean up her boyfriend’s garage apartment. I know it. But apparently I couldn’t even find the column then, and I can’t find it now.
Who better to deconstruct the art of the apology than an advice columnist?
Amy Dickinson spoke on this topic today on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. The piece was inspired by Ginni Thomas’ recent attempt, via voicemail, to elicit an apology from Anita Hill, who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991. The show then spins off into emails and phone calls from listeners. Listen or read a transcript here.
The lesson? In short, demanding apologies doesn’t work.
I must say–Amy’s been on NPR for years, but I’ve never heard her before…I like her voice–it’s very calm, but firm.
I’ve been a bit preoccupied this week, and nothing much in the columns has been leaping out at me, so I’ve decided to dig through some of my (oooold) unpublished drafts and see what I can make of them. Inspired, as always, by Maria Von Trapp, I decided to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). So, I scrolled to the bottom of my draft posts, and found this one from September 18. September 18, 2008. That’s, like, two weeks after I started this blog. The draft was titled, simply, “toilets.”
I was deeply troubled by Abby’s response to a not-quite-affianced woman last week:
DEAR ABBY: You probably have heard things like this before, but I don’t know where to turn.
I have been dating “Jeff” for five years and we have a lot of fun together. Last week Jeff proposed marriage and — I choked! Now I’m having doubts about everything, and he’s getting impatient with me because I haven’t given him an answer.
Things are not going the way I had hoped, Abby. Everything is falling apart. Does this happen often? How do I know if he’s the right one? — PANICKED IN PITTSBURGH
Tomorrow at noon, Chicago time (1 p.m. Eastern), Amy Dickinson will be hosting a live chat!
Yes, it will conflict with the weekly CHLC. But that’s why God made browser tabs!
Expert writers and researchers showed up in two columns today, fretting that they hadn’t been properly recognized for their efforts on behalf of others.
Last Friday and this morning both featured duplicate letters. Last week, Margo published a letter that appeared in Prudence’s live chat a couple of months ago. This morning, Amy published a letter that Prudence published yesterday. Hmmmm…….
Last Friday’s Dear Margo:
Dear Margo: I am a young (early 20s) Muslim woman. For more than 10 years, I chose to wear a scarf on my head, but my problem is that I don’t want to wear it anymore. I started wearing it on my own because I believed in it, but I’ve been reconsidering for several years now after much thought and study.
I wish I could just take it off, but there are problems. One, my family is very religious and would freak out if I did. (I tried to bring up the subject once, and they were horrified.) I am a college grad currently looking for a job but haven’t found one yet, so I’m stuck at home and, therefore, financially dependent on them. Two, should I take it off, the small, tight-knit Muslim community in which I live would talk endlessly about it, which would “ruin” my family’s reputation. At the moment, they are held in high regard, particularly my dad, who is seen as a religious leader. I don’t want to shame my family or alienate myself from them, which is what would happen if I took it off. We are close. Just to make it clear, my family members are not religious extremists in any sense, just devoted to their religion and terrified that I am drifting away from it. What to do?
— To Wear or Not To Wear