Sorry, not sorry
A few weeks ago, I watched a skit from “Inside Amy Schumer” that had me laughing hysterically. The skit centered on a four woman panel invited to speak at a conference on innovation. The women were smiling, sitting confidently, waiting for the questions to begin. There was a sense of importance, pride in each of their faces. The moderator, who was a man, began with quick introductions down the line. While introducing Amy, he slightly mispronounced her last name. Immediately, Amy sheepishly smiles, mumbles, “Sorry!” and rushes into an apology for his error. The moderator barely acknowledges her and continues to the next woman. The introductions continue with more mispronounced names, or inaccurate credit of accomplishment. It becomes more absurd, women saying they’re sorry for asking questions, asking for water and getting coffee. Finally, it ends with a woman losing her legs (see the skit here), screaming she’s sorry for ruining everything.
As laughable and outrageous all of this was, I found myself completely identifying with all of it, especially the name thing. I cannot tell you how many times I have been called variations of my name and have, in turn, apologized to the offender. It makes no sense — why would I be sorry for something someone else has done wrong? Sure, it’s not some high crime, but there’s no need for me to apologize for it. I have gotten so much better over the years of not apologizing and instead correcting the offender. I don’t care if I have to do it every. Single. Time.
It seems like this is happening more now that I’m doing stand-up and meeting new people at shows. Sometimes I’m meeting the booker (or host) for the first time the night of the show. Ok, no big deal. I’ll just clearly introduce myself and all will be right in the world. Most times, it is. Other times, it’s not. I have had people on shows tell me that they “can’t pronounce my name.” I’ve been told they will “get as close as they can.” How often do I get an apology for it? Almost never. Over the years, I’ve had people try to convince me that Marie and Maria are interchangeable.
Guess what? They’re not.
I have been keeping mental note of how often I am murmuring these throw away apologies and it’s pitiful. I have said sorry for:
- Walking into a doorway first, even though I was the first person to reach the door.
- Someone blatantly interrupting my conversation.
- Accidentally dropping my change onto the floor in front of someone walking down the hall.
In all of these instances, a simple “excuse me” would have sufficed.
Because of all of this, I’ve also become more aware of people around me using this now tainted word. You know what my completely unscientific research has shown? Women by far exceed men in empty apologies.
I’m going to work on this because it’s really not a good trait to have. Constantly throwing out an “I’m sorry!” diminishes the meaning. When an apology is necessary and warranted (for when you’re being an asshole), it carries more weight, more meaning.
So, let’s set the record straight, shall we?
My name is Marie Forster. Not Maria. Not Mary. Not Murray (yes, I’ve gotten that). Not any other fucking variation of a name beginning with the letter M.
Forster is pronounced with the letter R, directly before the letter S. It’s not Foster. It’s not Forester. It’s not “who cares, it’s the same thing.”
Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. I hope you’re not too upset.