Al Batt: Sorry I seem to say sorry a little too much

Published 8:41 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

I went for a walk with my wife and a friend.

I discovered a pile of walnuts at the base of a tree. The tree had a few walnuts crammed into crevices in its bark.

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It was the beginning of a midden. I’ve seen middens a few feet high and even wider than that. A midden is the work of a single red squirrel, also known as a pine squirrel, boomer, chickaree, chatterbox or fairy diddle, that measures about a foot long from nose to tail. They are solitary and territorial.

Red squirrels are omnivores with varied diets. They eat nuts, buds, seeds (often from cones), fungi, flowers, fruits, sap, insects and eggs. A red squirrel stores its food in a midden, which is a cache that serves as both a refuse site for past meals and storage for future meals and can be loaded with cones from coniferous trees. They hoard food. Squirrels squirrel things away and steal from one another. A midden tends to be centrally located in a squirrel’s territory, which may cover five acres.

As we looked at the midden starter set, the feisty squirrel leaped from branch to branch in nearby trees, scolding us severely. He used language unbecoming a gentleman or a squirrel.

The squirrel didn’t want to lose its midden.

I understood. I lost my mittens once and it made me unhappy.

I told the squirrel that I was sorry for the intrusion.

The night before, my wife and I’d gathered along a lovely lake to enjoy pizza and conversation with friends around a fire pit. The mosquitoes were bothersome for a bit, but quickly terminated their assault. I guess we were unappetizing.

I sat on one of those plastic deck chairs. The legs of that chair sank into the soft sand of the beach and tipped over backwards slowly. Perhaps I’d eaten one slice of pizza too many.

I didn’t glide gracefully to the ground. It was as if I’d tipped in slow motion. It’s like that when I do something incredibly stupid. It slows time so that the realization of my mistake will last longer and be more disheartening.

I became a turtle on its back. It was hard to right myself. I wanted to jump up like a fallen gymnast. Instead, I rolled awkwardly out of the fallen chair and stood up clumsily.

Uninjured, I apologized for the fuss.

I met a car on a gravel road not far from my home. I was engrossed in an audio book. The driver of that car waved. I didn’t wave. It’s state law that you must wave at every driver you encounter on a gravel road. That law extends to farm tractor operators, pedestrians, bicyclists and dogs seen on or along gravel roads. The fines for disobeying this law can be substantial and driving privileges could be suspended for repeat violators. Besides, waving is the right thing to do.

As I said, the other driver waved. The truth be told, I waved back, but I did so after we’d passed one another. I hoped he was looking in his rearview mirror and saw my belated waving. I told him that I was sorry, but he wouldn’t have been able to hear me. Even if he read lips, he wouldn’t have been able to see mine flapping.

I’m going to put a sticker of a waving hand on my front bumper so I’ll be covered for future gaffes in etiquette.

I waved twice at the next vehicle I met.

I’ve spent time in England. The citizens were exceedingly polite. They apologized whenever the opportunity presented itself. They apologized for the actions of others. They apologized for the prices of things. They apologized for the weather. They apologized for not apologizing sooner. They were my kind of people.

I was in a Tennessee restaurant when a man sneezed six times. Each sneeze was louder than any sneeze I’d ever heard. The people, who weren’t blown away by the sneezes, took cover. He didn’t excuse himself or apologize. He should have. I apologize often to make up for the likes of him.

I tell my wife every morning that I’m sorry because I know that I’ll do something during the day that will need apologizing. That’s a husband’s job. I begin each day with a mouth full of much obliged and mea culpa.

I’m sincere each time I say that I’m sorry, but I reckon I do apologize too often.

I guess I’m a sorry person.

I’m sorry about that.

And I’m sorry that I’m sorry about that.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.