Apology

Photo credit Carolyn Ziel

Merriam Webster defines Apology as an admission of error or an expression of regret. This is not the type of apology I receive all that often. And mainly I don’t receive this type of apology from women. Girlfriends.

This morning I made a list. On it are two A’s, a B, two C’s, and two D’s. There are more than three J’s, two L’s and two S’s. There’s an M, and even a Y. The Y for Yvonne. She and I knew each other for a short time in the 90’s.

“Justin said you left this at the apartment,” Yvonne said and plopped a bulging white trash bag on the floor by my desk one morning. She and I worked at the same medical software company. I was the executive assistant to the president. I sat in a cubicle outside of his office in the executive suite. Yvonne was an admin in human resources.

She and I met the weekend I moved into the one bedroom apartment in her building. I shared that apartment with Justin. “You sleep here,” Justin said when he showed me the bedroom. “Where do you sleep?” I asked. “Sofa,” he replied.

It was a big apartment. I was looking for a job. I knew I would find one soon and that during the week I’d be at work. On weekends outside, away, busy. At the beach. By the pool, which was steps from the front door. I was sure I’d never see him. The building was on the alley that butted up to The Cow’s End Coffee shop. I once counted 150 steps from my bedroom to my morning vanilla hazelnut cup of coffee and just 150 more to the sand. To be this close to the beach, I could make it work. “Don’t worry,” he said and smiled “I’m hardly home. And I have a girlfriend.”

Not only was Justin home all the time, he seemed to sleep during the day and cook pork chops in an iron skillet at 2 in the morning. Smoke from his burnt meat hung in the air. He kept the shades drawn day and night. It was like living in a dungeon.

5 1/2 months later I signed the lease for a bright beach front studio on the Esplanade in Redondo.

I didn’t remember leaving anything behind at Justin’s. In fact, I was careful to leave my room in good condition. And if I did forget anything, it couldn’t have been so much as to fill a trash bag.

“What is this?” I said to Yvonne and reached for the bag. It was too heavy to lift from my seat. The white plastic was stretched tight around it’s contents.

“Justin said you left it at the apartment,” she said.

I opened the bag. The smell of rotten-alley-behind-a-restaurant-on-a-busy-Saturday-night filled my cubicle and pushed up into my nose and down my throat. I looked inside. I saw two empty milk cartons, a stick of butter, an open carton of broken eggs, papers, envelopes, a car magazine, empty tuna and sardine cans. I reached in the bag and pulled out an Edison invoice from a bill paid months before. I held up the stained damp paper. It was dripping with egg yolk. A glob of coffee grinds fell from it onto the floor. I looked at Yvonne. This girl had just delivered a bag of garbage to my desk in the executive suite of a 100 million dollar software company. What the fuck?

“Yvonne, can’t you see this is a bag of garbage?” I said.

“I didn’t look inside,” she said.

“I don’t drink milk,” I said. As if that mattered.

“Justin said it was your stuff and he asked me to do him a favor. He’s my friend.”

Yvonne and I were friends. We tripped around Venice together, shopped at the boardwalk, went on long bike rides, lay by the pool on Saturdays and went to the C&O Trattoria with her fiancé Mark. We drank too much from the honor bar, sang That’s Amore and clinked glasses. It was Yvonne who told me about this job.

“Aren’t we friends?” I asked.

Yvonne never apologized.

I’m sure at the time I was upset about it. I might have called Justin. I might have said something to the girls I worked with. I might have, but the truth is, I don’t remember. It’s not as vivid a scene as you might think. I don’t even remember that much about her. We were friends for what, six months? I remember she was pretty in a nondescript way. I don’t remember her being intelligent. I mean this is a girl that delivers a bag of garbage to someone at a place of business. Who does that?

I moved on. I do that, I move on. I fold the experience, tuck it away, file it and store it in the back of my closet. I didn’t plan on pulling it out today, but I stumbled over it on my way to some other story about some other girlfriend who did some other thing and forgot to apologize.

Delivering garbage to me at work isn’t the worse offense. It’s stupid, yes. It’s a nasty thing to do. She could have said no. The normal person would have said, ‘Uh, yeah, I can’t bring a bag of garbage into work, sorry dude.’ I have a feeling Yvonne might not have been that type of girl. I have a feeling she was unhappy. That she and Mark might not have made it as a couple. He might have cheated on her. Maybe they never even got married. She complained about him a lit. He didn’t buy her flowers. He didn’t want to plan set a date, plan a wedding. She hated his stack of Playboy and Penthouse on their coffee table. He flirted with other women. I think he flirted with me. Maybe I was a threat. I’m not saying I was, I don’t think I was his type. I have a feeling Yvonne wasn’t his type either. I didn’t think much of Mark. Guys with stacks of girlie mags never did do it for me. Besides, I was dating Lasher at the time. He was good in bed, although I’m pretty sure he was gay.

Trash is easy. You clean up the coffee grinds. You throw it away. It was a long time ago. It’s just a thing that happened. A story. An incident that didn’t leave a scar. The Y in a long list of letters.

Here’s another definition of apology: something that is said or written to defend something.

That’s the type of apology I receive most often. The “I’m sorry but…” The apologoy that implies it’s my fault. That I made them do it. As if I’m the devil.