Backhanded Apology Poem

I’m sorry I wasn’t funny tonight.

I’m sorry I couldn’t give you the little things: the sass, the spontaneity, the whispered jokes that only you get to laugh at (and hysterically). I’m sorry I’m not everything you love about me in every moment you want to love it.

I’m sorry I mis-calibrated my caffeine intake. I’m sorry I had too much on the plane, and too little when I got off it. I’m sorry I expended my social energies eavesdropping on those two in my row (the girl from the UW with the Cantonese-Australian accent, and the woman from Australia on her way home from winter in rural British Columbia, whose accent was also peculiar; they talked about Perth and education and how hard it can be sometimes to work with Americans, who are rude) and in conversation with my taxi driver, Anwar, who pestered me with rhetorical questions about efficiently navigating traffic (“Am I going to take you home faster by taking the express lanes today?”), to which I politely replied my assent.

I’m sorry, most of all, that I spent too much time buttering up those two friends of yours whom I don’t care for very much, because I wanted to show you that I’m a well-adjusted partygoer who can get along with anyone; I’m sorry that this led me to neglect you. I’m sorry that I ducked out early because you were watching the movie and enjoying it and I couldn’t enjoy it like you wanted me to.

I’m not a television-watcher, and you aren’t an introvert, and yet I swear I can see you, an extra in the background, a professional smiler and eater and atmosphere-warmer, when my roommate pulls up a The Office re-run and says to me, “You have to see this scene, you’ll think it’s so funny.”

Tonight, I wanted you to do your best. I wanted you to have your best night, and I didn’t want one of my bad nights to interfere with that. So I left you with what little humor I had to spare, and I enjoyed, in my somber way, my long walk home, pulling my not-yet-unpacked suitcase across sidewalk cracks, squinting at the stars, or planets, or jaundiced eyes apologetic for ten p.m. haze.