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An apology

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I ran across this ad while looking for something else entirely and was really struck by it. I'd never seen anything like this before: an ad to a total stranger with no address given. Which means, of course, no reply was expected.

Here is the text:

The gentleman who yesterday afternoon accosted a lady in Broadway, requesting permission to walk with her, and received the reply, "I believe, sir, you are not acquainted with me," takes this method of tendering the apology he did not then have the opportunity to make. He had reasons for believing that he had been the unwilling cause of great inconvenience, if not serious injury to her, and was desirous of making any reparation in his power. Hoping and believing this apology will be as graciously accepted as it is frankly given, I remain a GENTLEMAN.


I'm a little unclear as to whether he is apologizing for insulting her at that moment, or if he's apologizing for some past injury (his use of the word "had" suggests the latter meaning), but either way it just breathes sincerity. I wonder if he actually believed there was a chance the lady involved would actually read it, or if he just really wanted to get the apology off his chest. I remember reading missed connection ads on Craigslist in which the authors actually began: "I know you never read these ads," and then proceeded to pour their hearts out even though they knew the person being addressed would never see the ad. I can imagine there's some real cathartic value in that, and I wonder if this guy was indulging in the same kind of futile gesture - or if the Personals column was so widely read that he believed he had a real chance of catching her eye.

If the former, I think it's lovely. If the latter, I think it's awesome, in terms of my dissertation, although it doesn't actually prove much. Just speculation on my part. Still, it's an awfully sweet gesture, and I hope the lady saw it, and forgave him.

Having trouble reading the ads? Click one to enlarge!

©2009 Pam Epstein

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