A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
This is a home truth that everyone knows. A person close to you deserves your forgiveness…without having to apologize all over the place.
But when I remind people of this saying—a thing both humbling and annoying—they goggle at me as if I were a crazy woman.
I am not a crazy woman.
And I should not have to apologize for trifling offenses. Especially when those offenses are unintentional and, in so many cases, entirely imaginary.
People are too sensitive. It takes strength of character to speak the honest truth. Can I help it if I am a woman of character? See here, if my neighbor is wearing a hideous shade of orange, making her look 20 pounds heavier, wouldn’t she like to know? Or should I say nothing and let everyone assume she’s pregnant? I am only trying to prevent gossip.
They take things the wrong way. I get no credit for the work I do to organize and direct people’s lives. If they only followed my insightful advice, their lives would be so much better! Can I help it if I am a natural leader? Is it my fault that most people are dull-witted and stupid and have No Taste?
People hear what they wish to hear. They focus on part of a sentence, or on one particular word. It’s as if they deliberately misunderstand what I say. Sometimes I think taking pains to be tactful is a waste of time. And I’ll have you know that I am very tactful, always.
And they make a big deal about expressions. Can I help it if I sigh more loudly than other people? Or swat at a gnat that no one else notices? Or flip a stray lock of hair? Or have a sudden desire to examine the ceiling?
Motive the most important thing. This is what our mothers have told us since we were tots: It’s all about Motive. Bless me, doesn’t anyone understand this? If I did not intend to hurt your feelings, then I didn’t. End of discussion.
Love you, mean it, let’s do lunch.
Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross
Quotation is from Love Story by Erich Segal
Mary’s “portrait” is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini