I know no amount of Burger King gift certificates can ever make up for what I did to your dog.

Dear Uncle Ted,

Is it ever too late to say you’re sorry?

– Grace Simplot, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Uncle Ted certainly hopes not. The occasional lapse into discussing himself in the third person is just one of the many regret-worthy ignominies Uncle Ted has racked up during his 56 years here on planet Earth. He wishes he could find every mime he’s punched, every ninja assassin he’s double-crossed, every Polynesian princess he’s jilted and beg their forgiveness.

Unfortunately, Grace, sometimes it IS too late. The sister who stole your high school boyfriend? The one who went on to build a perfect life with the perfect guy who should’ve been yours? She could suffer a fatal (albeit, deserved) allergic reaction to Botox before you get a chance to apologize for the laxative brownies you fed her the afternoon before prom.

If you think there are wrongs that you, personally, need to right, my advice is this:

  • Build a list of all the folks you’ve ever screwed over. If you (or most of the people on your list) are about to die, restrict entry to the list to apologies that would be part of a good Lifetime movie denouement. If you’re just bored or have entered a 12-step program, a spreadsheet or database program may be needed to manage the information. I use Excel.
  • Sort the apologees by age, heinousness of acts perpetrated, and length of time from when you last told them or they last told you to go f*ck yourself. (This not only prioritizes your efforts, but will most likely yield one or two initial apologies to a senior, or dementia sufferer. It’s a good way to begin, since, odds are, they’ve forgotten all about it. It’s a good way to ease into your penitence-fest.)
  • Bring the list to a travel agent, who will arrange a cross-country itinerary. (Tip on planning: I wouldn’t try to combine this trip with any family vacations. Explanations to your spouse about why you have to drive three hours out of the way from Disneyland just so you can give an aging prostitute a cash-filled envelope might be awkward, at best.)
  • Take three weeks off of work and get to amends-makin’. Three weeks should be plenty of time for the average 46-year-old American asshole to get the high-priority apologies out of the way. (Uncle Ted plans to take a five-month sabbatical, but only because he has to go to Tibet.)

I hope I’ve been helpful, Grace. I also hope you’ve never stolen any Tibetan religious artifacts. Just because they’re Buddhist doesn’t mean they’re not going to try to kick your ass once they see you again.


P.S. Je suis désolé. Je suis désolé.


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