A Public Apology

Looking out over the East River from my jail cell, and still running for public office, I realize that I have taken several actions in my life for which I owe public apologies.

Once, I won a supermarket sweepstakes even though my second cousin was a box boy in that very store. I would like to apologize to Safeway Food, Inc., and its employees. I would like to apologize to my family, who have stood by me, and especially to my wife Karen. A wiser and more loyal spouse could not be found.

When I was twenty-one, I smoked marijuana every day for one year. I would like to apologize for the next fifteen years of anxiety attacks and drug-related phobias, including the feeling that when Ed Sullivan introduced Wayne and Shuster he was actually signaling my parents that I was high. I would like to apologize to my wife Karen, who still believes in me, and to the Marijuana Growers Association of Napa Valley and its affiliates, for any embarrassment I may have caused.

I would also like to mention a little incident that took place in the Holiday Inn in Ipsilante, Michigan, during that same time. As I was lying in bed in Room 342, I began counting the ceiling tiles. Since the room was square, it was an easy computation, taking no longer than the weekend. As Sunday evening rolled around, I began to compute how many imaginary ceiling tiles it would take to cover the walls and floor of my room. When I checked out of the hotel, I flippantly told the clerk that it would take twelve hundred and ninety-four imaginary ceiling tiles to fill the entire room. Two weeks later, while attempting to break the record for consecutive listenings to "American Pie," I realized I had included the real tiles in my calculation of imaginary tiles; I should have subtracted them from my total. I would like to apologize to the staff of the Holiday Inn for any inconvenience I may have caused, to the wonderful people at Universal Ceiling Tile, to my wife Karen, and to my two children, whole growth is stunted.

Several years ago, In California, I ate my first clam and said it tasted "like a gonad dipped in motor oil." I would like to apologize to Bob 'n' Betty's Clam Fiesta, and especially to Bob, who I found out later had only one testicle. I would like to apologize to the waitress, June, and her affiliates, and to the DePaul family dog, who suffered the contents of my nauseated stomach.

There are several incidents of sexual harassment I would like to apologize for:

In 1992, I was interviewing one Ms. Anna Floyd for a secretarial position when my pants accidentally fell down around my ankles as I was saying, "Ever seen one of these before?" Even though I was referring to my new Pocket Tape Memo Taker, I would like to apologize to Ms. Floyd for any grief this misunderstanding might have caused her. I would also like to apologize to the Pocket Tape people and their affiliates, and to International Hardwood Designs, whose floor my pants fell upon. I would especially like to apologize to my wife Karen, whose great understanding fills me with humility.

Once, in Hawaii, I had sex with a hundred-and-two-year-old male turtle. It is hard to argue that it was consensual. I would like to apologize to the turtle, his family, the Kahala Hilton Hotel, and the hundred or so diners who were eating at the Hilton's outdoor café. I would also like to apologize to my loyal wife Karen, who had to endure the subsequent news item in the "Also Noted" section of the Santa Barbara Women's Club Weekly.

In 1987, I attended a bar mitzvah in Manhattan while wearing white gabardine pants, white patent-leather slippers, a blue blazer with gold buttons, and a yachting cap. I would like to apologize to the Jewish people, to the state of Israel, to my family, who have stood by me, and to my wife, Karen, who has also endured my seventeen affairs and three out-of-wedlock children. Further, I would like to apologize to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for referring to its members as "colored people." My apology would not be complete if it didn't include my new wife, Nancy, who is of a pinkish tint, and our two children, who are white-colored.

Finally, I would like to apologize for spontaneously yelling the word "Savages!" after losing six thousand dollars on a roulette spin at the Choctaw Nation Casino and Sports Book. When I was growing up, the meaning of this word in our household closely approximated the Hawaiian "Aloha," and my use of it in the casino was meant to express "Until we meet again."

Now, on with the campaign!

A Public Apology

November 17, 1997
The New Yorker
By Steve Martin

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