For several years I’ve been noticing that we’ve stopped using such conciliatory words as “excuse me,” “pardon me” and “I’m sorry.” When we put our foot in our mouth, we would rather blame clumsiness than admit our failure. Into that absurd “code of national male-chauvinism,” with laughable phrases such as “a real man doesn’t drink soup, doesn’t eat sweets, etc, etc.,” someone has added the phrase: “A real Cuban doesn’t have to apologize.”
I remember the hilarious anecdote of a friend of mine, whose toe was “crushed” by the narrow heel of a lady passing by. When he realized the lady was not going to apologize, he got closer to her and said, “Forgive me, Madam, for getting your heel dirty.” The woman didn’t like the irony at all, and she came very close to again crushing the toe of her “victim.” All this because she didn’t want to pronounce the magic words to express her regret for the mistake she made.
How many times have we been badly waited on, insulted or ignored by a waiter who is incapable of articulating words such as, “I’m very sorry, Sir.” A phrase like that does not fix the problem, but at least it leaves you with the sensation that there was no premeditation in such bad service. The record for undelivered apologies, however, goes to the bureaucrats and politicians. They’ve been our teachers in this “intensive course of not regretting anything.”
We are exceptional students of a government that, in almost fifty years of “dancing alone” on the stage of our politics, has never given an apology for anything. We’ve been waiting in vain for the necessary mea culpa for the revolutionary crackdown in 1968, for the atrocity of the repudiation meetings, for the dependence on the Soviet Union, and for the successive and disastrous economic plans that ended up in this productive strangulation. In short, the list is so long and so dramatic that, instead of an apology, it demands a prolonged act of “public self-flagellation.”
Oh, well. I already know politicians never apologize. That’s why we, their small copies who imitate them, repeating their slogans and poses, also emulate them in not apologizing. “For what?” the lady who stepped on my friend’s foot would ask. We already have our toes crushed and up there they don’t want to recognize that they already have their soles “dirty.”
Graffiti on the barrel: Save. (in white: “that”) There isn’t much.