The Long Wait for Those Three Words

Why wouldn’t her sorry butt just say she was sorry?


Katherine Streeter

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” That is what Ali McGraw said in the movie Love Story. She was wrong—hot, but still wrong. It was the ’70s and she was heavily medicated and terminally heterosexual.

Love means saying you’re sorry all the time. It means saying you’re sorry when you commit a transgression, whether intentional or not. It means apologizing when you think you may have been wrong and even when you know damn well that you were right. To forgive is divine, but a well-executed apology is heavenly.

I don’t know what attracted me to the dyke-who-couldn’t-apologize; I suppose it was her confidence. Later I realized that what passed for confidence early on in the relationship was just plain arrogance. She always knew what was wrong with the world and everybody in it. At first I would delight in her diagnoses and prescriptions for the ills of the planet. Rapt, I would sit in a café with her as she would pontificate about how simple life could be if only people would allow themselves to see with the clarity that she possessed.

Her ex-lovers, it seemed, did not understand her gifts and would become angry or jealous, thus spoiling the relationship with her. I listened carefully and vowed not to make the same mistakes.

She talked a lot. I know now that talking too much is a warning sign. But then again so is a willingness to listen to hours of bullshit. Sometimes she talked so long that her coffee got cold and so did mine, because I didn’t want her to think I wasn’t paying attention by looking down at my cup in order to grasp it and take a drink. Cocktails were easier because I could snatch the stem of a martini glass and gulp half the contents without spilling a drop or breaking her intense gaze.

Looking back, the liquor was probably a bad idea. Perhaps if I had been in my right mind more of the time, I might have gotten out of the situation with a cute little story about a bad date rather than a drawn-out tale about a dyke who couldn’t ask for forgiveness.

She was hung up on her ex-lover, but she wouldn’t admit it. Kai was the ex before me, the one that apparently got away. Lucky her. She described Kai as emotionally unavailable and incapable of empathy. She said she felt fortunate to be out of the situation with Kai, but her thin quivery voice gave a different impression. It was another warning flag; but if a girl has to brake for every lesbian who has issues with an ex, she will have limited life experience.

She didn’t stay in contact with Kai or any of her other ex-lovers. She thought that lesbians who kept old girlfriends around were emotionally stunted and lacked the ability to go on with their lives in healthy and prosperous ways. Of course, many of my pals were former flames who turned out to be better suited for friendship. She called every woman I ever slept with an ex. She would shake her head and tsk-tsk me when she heard that I was getting together with one of them. She would warn me that such fraternization would only lead to trouble in my life and eventually trouble with her.

A few months into the relationship, or after I joined the cult, as my sister called it, I stumbled upon my girlfriend dining with Kai. Yes, the Kai. Imagine my surprise when I stopped in to a restaurant for a quick bite after work and saw my girlfriend looking soulfully into the eyes of the woman sitting across the table from her. They were sharing a salad and although they were not feeding each other, they were eating from the same plate. I wondered just how far up someone’s ass I could shove a free-range chicken.

On shaky legs, I walked over to them and made my presence known. Everything clever I had planned to say evaporated in my throat like the spit had in my mouth when my darling immediately jumped up and embraced me like she hadn’t seen me in years and introduced me to her “friend,” Kai. I stood there and muttered a few idiotic words about the restaurant or the weather or how awful it was to be me at that moment and then excused myself and left without picking up my food.

I didn’t know what to make of the situation, but I needn’t have worried because she did. She called a few hours later and acted as light and breezy as could be. She asked about my evening and chatted about her day at work. I wondered when she would get to the part of the day where she was sitting down to dinner with her ex-girlfriend, a fact she had neglected to mention to me earlier, when we had spoken about our respective plans for the evening.

Finally I couldn’t take it any more and I said, “Why were you having dinner with Kai tonight?” Why was I talking to her like that, she wanted to know. And then we had a half-hour discussion about my attitude and my jealousy and how crappy both things were. Three hang-ups later, she told me that Kai had called to ask her for some advice about her new relationship. She felt that it would have been wrong to turn her “friend” away in a time of need.

I was the one who spent my life hanging out with old girlfriends. And I was the one who had made other plans for the evening. And didn’t I feel terrible for being jealous and angry? As always, she persuaded me to see things her way. Instead of receiving an apology, I wound up making several.

It was shortly after that incident that I noticed she was never wrong and therefore never needed to apologize. I really thought about it and realized that she had not uttered an apology once in the entire time I had known her. Not to me, not to anyone.

I started paying attention to this facet of her personality. She would arrive late and blame the other motorists on the road for her tardiness.

She would step on somebody’s foot in an elevator and explain that she was pushed or assert that she was the victim of a faulty shoe manufacturer.

When it came to our relationship, no matter what she did, her butt was never sorry. When she yelled, I drove her to it. When she dropped my car keys down the street drain, she asked me why my keys were so slippery.

Her refusal to admit that she was at fault would have been fascinating if I were her therapist, but seeing as I was her lover, it was exhausting and annoying.

We continued on our unmerry path together for a couple more months, until I found Kai’s underwear tangled in her sheets.

Of course I didn’t know it was Kai’s right away. My righteous woman tried to tell me that the underwear I had found in her bed was my own. I told her that it was not. Then she told me that it was hers. I held it aloft in disbelief. Kai was a big girl. My soon to be ex-girlfriend was speechless for about 30 seconds, which was a record in our relationship.

Finally, she spoke. And spoke. And spoke. She talked about all that was wrong about us. She blustered about how far she had gotten from her emotions. She acknowledged that she had some unresolved issues with Kai, but since those unresolved issues were mostly sexual in nature, she saw no reason why we could not continue our relationship while she worked on sex with Kai. She couldn’t really remember how many times she and Kai had slept together in the past few months, but claimed that such details were unimportant. What was important was that she was making real progress and that she was sure that after having sex with Kai a few more times, her issues would work themselves out.

I told her that I would not be waiting around to find out how the Kai saga ended. I told her that the time I spent with her had been a waste and that she was a selfish, lying creep who owed me and the entire lesbian nation an apology.

As my back was almost out her door, I heard her sputter, “I am sorry…you feel that way.”

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