SLACKJAW by JIM KNIPFEL
October 16, 2014

An Apology

 

It’s not often I feel compelled to offer an apology for anything I’ve written, but at times I admit I can be a mercenary asshole when trying to tell what I consider a funny story. Sometimes a story can become just a story in my head, completely isolated from the events that inspired it, with no thought or consideration for the actual people involved. When one of those people happens to be my wife, the one person in the world I would never want to hurt, the one who takes care of me on a daily basis, well that’s just stupid criminal assholery on my part, and I need to take responsibility. I can be a miserable fucking jerk sometimes.

            A few weeks ago I ran a column here about losing a fingertip as the result of a petulant drunken tantrum (don’t go looking for it—it’s gone). Sitting down a week or two after the event to write it, I intended it to be a portrait of the awful—even dangerous and terrifying—treatment Morgan and I received in the emergency room of a local hospital. Instead what came out was a jumble of misremembered and plain inaccurate facts and events. Worse, it was a grotesquely unfair portrait of my wife, the woman who wrapped me up and got me to the hospital when I was otherwise useless and pathetic, stayed with me the whole time dealing with these monstrous doctors and nurses, and got me the hell out of there when it became clear things were taking an insane turn.

            The “Morgan” in that story bears no resemblance to the one I know and love. The Morgan I know is frightfully smart, funny as hell, and has the patience of a saint (as anyone who’s met her can tell you). That other Morgan, the one who screams and hurls abuse, was a creation, a fiction I used to enhance the telling of a story. It was unthinking and unfair, and I’m more than a little ashamed that the drive to tell a stupid little story could blind me to not only the truth, but to the realities of all she’s done for me, and my own deep love for her.

            What’s really despicable is that this wasn’t the first time I’ve done such a thing. Over the twenty years we’ve been together I’ve occasionally used her like a fictional character, as a foil speaking words that were not her own. I’ve run with her ideas (which are usually much better than my own) without offering the slightest acknowledgment. To do something like that to a stranger, some dilwad you ran into on the street or in a bar is one thing, but to do it to your best friend goes way beyond shabby, veering headlong toward the self-destructive. To say it’s time I stopped is both obvious and long overdue.

            I’d just like to take a moment here to tell you some of the things she does for a husband who’s no prize catch, things I don’t mention often enough: When we step out, she leads me around, navigating me through stores and restaurants and pedestrians. She not only set up my computer and continues to extract me from the pickles in which I get ensnared, she also continues to make adjustments that allow me to keep working. She cleans up after me whenever I knock some shit over or spill yet another beer. Knowing how much I love movies and how frustrated I am at not being able to see them anymore, she describes what’s happening on the screen whenever we watch anything together. When we moved into the new apartment, she let me turn a small side room into an office where I could work and smoke, even though she had more use for it than I did. On her way home from work, she sometimes stops and picks up little things just because she thinks I might like or need them. When I was in the hospital after blowing my back a couple of years ago, she was there every night after work, even though she was working long hours and getting to and from the hospital added at least two or three hours to her trip home. She, like no one else, makes me laugh really, really hard. I can hold a conversation with her about damn near anything without ever getting bored. And best of all she comes home every night after work. Hearing the doorknob turn remains the high point of my day.

            That’s not even a thousandth of the things Morgan does, but enough I hope to make the point that I don’t know what I would ever do without her. Yet in response to all this, I am far too often a jackass. She deserves so much better than the cheap, unthinking nastiness that came out in that story (and my other cheap unthinking nastiness as well), and I’m deeply sorry for that. This is why I wanted to take this chance to publicly acknowledge and accept responsibility for my own failure of character, especially in pursuit of something as pointless as a “story,” and vow it won’t happen again. I love her too much for that.

 

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