Monday, December 15, 2008

Just Keep Quiet and Nobody Will Notice

A friend sent me this poem by Ogden Nash, and I enjoyed immensely. Feel free to say what you think!

There is one thing that ought to be taught in all the colleges,
Which is that people ought to be taught not to go around always making apologies.
I don't mean the kind of apologies people make when they run over you or borrow five dollars or step on your feet,
Because I think that is sort of sweet;
No, I object to one kind of apology alone,
Which is when people spend their time and yours apologizing for everything they own.
You go to their house for a meal,
And they apologize because the anchovies aren't caviar or the partridge is veal;
They apologize privately for the crudeness of the other guests,
And they apologize publicly for their wife's housekeeping or their husband's jests;
If they give you a book by Dickens they apologize because it isn't by Scott,
And if they take you to the theater, they apologize for the acting and the dialogue and the plot;
They contain more milk of human kindness than the most capacious diary can,
But if you are from out of town they apologize for everything local and if you are a foreigner they apologize for everything American.
I dread these apologizers even as I am depicting them,
I shudder as I think of the hours that must be spend in contradicting them,
Because you are very rude if you let them emerge from an argument victorious,
And when they say something of theirs is awful, it is your duty to convince them politely that it is magnificent and glorious,
And what particularly bores me with them,
Is that half the time you have to politely contradict them when you rudely agree with them,
So I think there is one rule every host and hostess ought to keep with the comb and nail file and bicarbonate and aromatic spirits on a handy shelf,
Which is don't spoil the denouement by telling the guests everything is terrible, but let them have the thrill of finding it out for themselves.


  1. First, I want to apologize for my paltry and ill-phrased comment, with scanty content and even less sense to it...

    I never understood why Nash passed as a poet - maybe he couldn't handle an essay and there's little in between - but he's got a point.

    However, there's another apology I think should be done away with - the apology people give when you step on their feet or jostle them, etc.

    Now, I know this wasn't a very significant comment, but it's the best I could do. Hope you don't mind...

  2. Bad4 - :)

    However, there's another apology I think should be done away with - the apology people give when you step on their feet or jostle them, etc.

    Depends on how obnoxious they are. :P

  3. Erachet - Is something spelled wrong?

  4. (Sorry, that was a stupid comment)

    (Erg, and now I'm just copying Bad4)

    (Ugh - SORRY!!!)

    All I have in my head is a certain person saying, "stop apologizing!!!"

    Okay, okay! Sorry, sheesh!

    Next time I'll try to be more original :(

  5. Erachet - Is something spelled wrong?

    {Keeps quiet}

  6. (Actually - just read the title, man)

  7. The irony there is amazing.

    And quite on purpose, mind you! :D

  8. Don't assume I assumed it wasn't. Silly girl.

  9. What not many know is that the original working title for this poem was 'Shut Your Mouth and Stay Out Of the Way'

    The final decision to change it probably allowed for greater acceptance but I for one think it lost some of the zip from the original.

  10. good point but this poet only see one point of view. The host and hostess always do that becausse they really feel like they are lacking of something or it is not usual for them and guests sometimes like host to make statement about situtaion or guests would think there is something wrong with this situation. For example, Ezzie when i came over to your house, do you apologize something? Exactly! We are human and really care about guests' comfort that's why we kept apologize it.

  11. G - Eh.

    S&S - Actually agreed to an extent, but his point, however humorous, is still a good one. Nu, next time you come, no apologizing. :)

  12. Depends on how obnoxious they are. :P

    I think the apology is obnoxious. It always makes me feel a drop guilty, particularly when I had no intention of apologizing for stomping on them.

  13. Bad4 - LOL

    No no... I meant depends on how obnoxious the stomper was. The more obnoxious, the more fun it is to make them feel bad!