I Only Say I’m Sorry When I’m Wrong Now, News Reporters, and “A Tool is a Tool”

About a week ago, I was finishing up a run and listening to a playlist I had made a friend for Christmas. Despite being the creator of said playlist, I had forgotten that I put a song titled “I Only Say I’m Sorry When I’m Wrong Now” on it, by Cheekface. The song itself is very deadpan and cheeky (no pun intended), and it never ceases to amuse me. But as I listened to it, bearing in mind that the year was coming to a close, I couldn’t help but feel like it actually had some serious wisdom. The chorus goes as follows:

I only say I’m sorry when I’m wrong now.
I only run the air when it’s warm out.
I only text the friends that I like now.
I only talk trash if I thought it out.
Everything’s OK, nothing is on fire,
I already burned it all, and it’s just ash now.
I only drive the car if I can’t walk around.
I only say I’m sorry when I’m wrong now.

I thought to myself, “Geez, as dumb as this may be, I think that should be a New Year’s resolution: to stop apologizing for everything.”

I feel guilty about nearly all that I do. I work myself up into an anxious mess at even the possibility of letting someone down — even people I don’t particularly like, or people who add stress and drama to my life. I find myself constantly trying to make amends for things I shouldn’t be apologizing for, constantly trying to stay in the good graces of people I shouldn’t care about. What for?

Hearing Cheekface singing these words in a somewhat monotone voice, my takeaway was this:

2021 is a chance to let go of all the useless guilt I have harbored over the years (“I already burned it all and it’s just ash now”). I don’t need to feel obligated to reach out to people all the time, especially those who raise my blood pressure (“I only text the friends that I like now”). I can stand up for myself when others try to take me down (“I only talk trash if I thought it out”). And most importantly, I can stop apologizing for things that aren’t my fault. I’ll only say sorry when I’m wrong now.

I would’ve expected myself to write more during 2020, given the seemingly endless free time, but I’ve never really made writing a habit, and why would that suddenly change? I am, however, always noting odds and ends, even when I don’t think I am. The following are the last round of 2020 “musings” I had, compiled from various notes on my phone.

You know what’s aggravating? Cars with signals that blink too quickly. It seems like the car is saying it’s going leftleftleftleftleft rather than left – left – left – left – left. Maybe it’s the drummer in me, but the rhythm is all off in the context of turning.

A month or two ago, I was on the highway and found myself passing a food truck — Greek food, to be exact — on my right. I thought, “How many times will I be able to say I passed a food truck on the highway in my life? This is sort of momentous!” No, it wasn’t.

Dipping potato chips into potato salad may have been the most meta thing I have done all year.

I’ve always felt myself to be 17 years old. It’s due in large part to my adult imposter syndrome — seven years later, I still wonder who the hell said I could go around making adult decisions and fending for my own. But then I got even further evidence a few months ago.

I was filling out a survey with my company’s new health insurer that would determine my “biological age.” It asked all sorts of question on my diet, exercise, sleep, etc. Of course I was biased in some respects (“How active are you compared to others your age?” “EXTREMELY ACTIVE”), but I tried to be honest as possible, including all the craft beer I drink and my typical insomnia. I hit “Show Me My Results” and BOOM: 17 years and 8 months old. At the time, I was 23 years and 8 months old. Now that’s frickin’ uncanny.

Why do news reporters have that distinctive way of announcing headlines? Where did that come from? Is it supposed to make news more digestible? Imagine using that tone and cadence of voice in regular conversation; your friends would disown you.

Ever need something wholesome in your life? Try this: find a mailbox that is a miniature version of the house it corresponds to. Wholesomeness, achieved.

On Thanksgiving, I went a little hard on the food and beverage and found myself passed out on the couch by the fireplace, in a beret, dress, and tights no less. I was reminded of the peculiar feeling of wearing tights under a blanket. I would equate it to hugging a man in a nice suit. There’s something about it that exudes classiness in a weird way to me. That is all.

Leaving the house used to be “phone, wallet, keys.” Now it’s “phone, wallet, keys, mask.” But that’s if you’re driving. My struggle is the process of going for a walk — it’s like gearing up to go skiing, what with all you have to put on. And there’s an order. Now, before stepping outside, it’s ear buds first (already synced with phone, tuned to a killer playlist), followed by mask, followed by sunglasses, followed by hat. Straying from this order will cause irritation and discomfort. I just wanted to go for a walk, dammit.

This last rant could be a post in itself, but I’m too lazy to do that. This was a quandary I encountered a couple months ago that perplexed me enough that I had to consult my roommate on it. The question: Is there a female equivalent of a “tool”?

Whenever I go to the climbing gym, I will almost inevitably encounter a tool. You know the guy. It’s the guy who’s climbing without a shirt on or is wearing obnoxiously bright/tight clothes, makes various grunting noises on the wall to draw attention to himself, acts like he’s a V8 climber when he climbs V4 (V5 on a good day), tells you about all the times he’s been to Bishop, gives you unsolicited beta, etc. Basically the guy who thinks he’s great at climbing and thinks he knows everything about climbing, when the opposite is true.

Because these tools are inevitable, my tactic is simple: ignore them and just climb ostensibly harder than them. Done.

A couple months ago, I encountered what I can only describe as the female equivalent of a climbing tool. This woman arrived looking glamorous: lots of shiny bracelets on, hair up in two messy buns, donning high-end athletic-wear. She took off her shirt, which revealed an admittedly rockin’ bod. Fine. By the look of her and her confidence, I assumed she must be absolutely badass. It’s not often that I see wicked strong female climbers at the gym, so I tried to inconspicuously watch her.

At first glance, she was warming up on a V4. I thought, “Figures. She’s so strong that a V4 is a warm-up.” Although, she didn’t look super graceful on it. I shrugged it off; it was still her warm-up, after all.

But then, a minute later, I saw her fall off an overhanging V2. What was up?

I watched as this woman bounced from one killer hard boulder problem to the next, falling off the first move on all of them. She tried every V7, V8, and V9 in the gym without even so much as glancing at the lower-grade problems. As soon as she dry-fired off the first move of any of these, she’d laugh loudly, then race off to a notebook, where she’d emphatically scrawl something, then absolutely douse her hands (and really whole body) in chalk, before prancing off to another insanely difficult problem.

She was exhibiting the exact same behavior that I find so irritating among lots of male climbers, but I couldn’t really call her a “tool.” Was that even the right word for it? I wondered if I was being a bad feminist, since I should really support all women in the context of such a male-dominated sport … but I couldn’t escape it.

I went home and told my roommate Joe, also a climber, the whole story. “Am I being a bad feminist here?” I asked him, after a long tirade.

“No, I don’t think so. A tool is a tool, regardless of gender.”

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