Anatomy of an If-pology

For those sickened, as I was, by the recent extended recitation of my personal hurt over perceived mistreatment by a long-time writer friend, as I slowly processed the complicated toxins, please be forewarned.   This is the final bit.   Unless you’re interested in a dissection of an if-pology, please click away to something more diverting.

Here is a cool one I recommend, by a talented and philosophical cartoonist.  This one is also neat. 

For the fully annotated if-pology, which I offer in the hope it might be useful if you ever find yourself discomfited by an oddly unsatisfying apology, please read on.

Below is a writer friend’s apology, followed by my notes. You will find my take clarifying or proof that I am indeed the thin-skinned, vicious prig I was recently taken for.  

The writer had been hurt by something I posted here, felt personally and deliberately attacked and betrayed.   He assumed the worst of me after his outraged ex-wife forwarded the link to a poem I’d sent her.   You can be the judge of how entitled to his rage he was, the offending post is here too.  His tart email ended “I think you will agree we’re done here”.  

My relatively mild reply apparently surprised him, he thereafter wrote this apology, after reminding me again that I’d done something terrible to him that was kind of hard to forgive. Sadly, I find it irresistible as an example of a  textbook if-pology:

so let’s go back to april.(1)

i recall after our getting together you sending me some material and, as i remember, i read and responded to at least some  of it.(2)

it’s possible that i didn’t read it all, or perhaps i did and simply failed to respond.(3)

i simply don’t remember.(4)

but either way, it’s on me, and i am truly sorry because to you this was much more than a casual oversight. (5)

but, shit, man, all you had to do was call or drop me a folo-up note in may or june. (6)

i did not know you were hurt until i read that screed yesterday. (7)

i had some idea you might be pissed at me when you didn’t respond to my invite to the giants game in sept, (but, again, it appears now that i mis-sent that email).(8)

seems we currently have three choices:

1) we could cease and desist from all further communication as of this afternoon;

2) we could keep on emailing each other, which would likely create even more misunderstanding;

3) or the two of us could get together and see if we can work this out and maybe remain friends going forward.

 #2 doesn’t work for me. i’m okay with #1 if that’s what you like, but i’d be amenable to #3 if you are.   let me know your preference.(9)


1) in April we’d had a lovely four hour chat over dinner, the final hour or so about the manuscript I’m working on, which was then 300 pages, about my tragic, aggravating father’s life.   I’d mentioned I’d just posted some sections on a brand new website I was working on and he expressed great interest in reading it. 

2) I never heard a word back about any of it.  Our email string on the subject contains no reference by my friend to any of the pages I’d sent or any comment about the brand new Book of Irv website which I was regularly updating with new photos and pieces. The email string includes two or three subsequent links to other pieces I’d sent him.

 “as i remember, i read and responded to at least some of it” implies I that I could well be mistaken in my belief that he never replied.

The only other email I had from him in the days after was the mysterious:

from the late, great New Yorker cartoonist William Hamilton, speaking of his novels and screenplays: “Although I have not exactly been published or produced, I have had some things professionally typed.”

3) This note, and notes 4-8, are from his P.O.V.

I acknowledge the possibility that you might be right and I might be mistaken.  I’ll allow it’s possible I might have never given you any response.

4) it goes without saying, in light of this remark, that whatever you wrote clearly didn’t make that much of an impression on me one way or the other.   Nor did your website contain anything that notable or memorable.

5) “Either way” whether you hyper-sensitively, nay hysterically, blocked out that I actually had replied, which I believe I probably did, or whether, as you say, I never replied, it’s on me.  

To you” is the key qualifier to this otherwise 100% sincere if-pology since, to you, being ignored, as you imagine you were, was hurtful.  

Granted, of course, that not everyone would have reacted this way, but since you did, I am truly, truly sorry.  

The oversight was casual in any event, you oversensitive fucking irrationally angry twat.

6) This “but” points out how easily you could have prevented this hurt and hostility on your part. Shit, man, if I didn’t reply to three or four requests for my feedback, you should have just sent me five, six or seven like anyone else would have done.  Clearly, jerk-off, I didn’t do it on purpose, if I even did it at all, which I reserve the right to argue I never even did.  

7)  This highly offensive post, as I already told you now three or four times, was a screed (a lengthy rant) an aggressive and unprovoked attack, a clear and unambiguous personal public betrayal.   Open to debate how vicious or unfair the screed was, perhaps, but you cannot deny that I was very hurt by it, hurt enough to write you off as the intentionally vicious fuck you clearly are.  

8) It may be fair to ask, if a simple folo-up would have solved any misunderstanding after you didn’t hear back from me, why I assumed you were mad at me for not replying to my email you, I regrettably admit, probably never received, why I didn’t just call or resend the invite instead of assuming you’d  silently rejected the invitation I mis-sent and never followed up on.  

But surely, someone as sensitive as you apparently are to a casual and unintentional slight, can see why I felt you were acting pissily when I never heard back from you to the email invite I sent but I guess you never got.  

It may also be fair to concede that you never failed to reply to anything I ever sent you, at the address where we exchanged numerous emails over the years.  

But that is not the point here anyway, you are the vicious asshole here, not me.

9) Me speaking now:   I wrote back proposing choice 4– I would call him whenever he liked and we could talk.  A phone call was not fully acceptable to him, presumably it would be hard for me to adequately grovel unless we met in person.  

And then, sub silentio, as the old Latins used to say, he added:

and for the record, I will never tell you what I think of that book you are optimistically working on, needy butt cheek.

After chewing things over, and in consideration of his clearly offended manhood, I opted for option 5, which was basically an elegant, silent restatement of his option 1.

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