Prairie Lights: So many apologies, so little time


Just another St. Patrick’s Day in Butte: so many opportunities for subsequent apologies.

David Carpenter’s phone call to Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, to apologize for coldcocking Fox at the Radisson Hotel last week, was quite moving.

Carpenter had too much to drink and did something really stupid, but then he manned up and did the right thing. There’s a lesson here, friends, and not just for Donald Trump.


Ed Kemmick

I mean, if Trump had to call and offer apologies to everybody he’s offended with his stupid comments and actions, he wouldn’t have time to run for president, and then where would we be?

No, I’m talking about the rest of us, who may have done numerous things in our lives that we’re not proud of but never went to the trouble of trying to make amends. Thanks to David Carpenter, today is the day I start seeking forgiveness for the damage I’ve done, the people I’ve hurt, the elected officials I’ve coldcocked in a drinking establishment.

Former Gov. Marc Racicot for one. You remember that, Marc? Late 1976, early 1977? I think you were a deputy county attorney in Missoula then, or something. We were at Red’s Bar and my buddy started racking up the balls on the pool table and you said something like, “Dude, that was my quarter.”

And before I knew what was happening you and my buddy were in each other’s faces and then the punches started flying. I’m not going to lie. I’d been drinking. Hell, I’d been drinking for five or six hours, and I walked up from behind and whacked you right behind your left ear.

You went down hard and my buddy and I ran out of the bar. I’ve never mentioned the incident to another soul from that day to this one. But it’s haunted me. That’s not the kind of person I am. If you can remember that (for that matter, can you remember when a pool game cost 25 cents?), please, please forgive me.

Then there was St. Patrick’s Day 1980, I think it was, in Butte. How many people did I punch in a bar that night? God only knows. But some friends told me one of the guys I coldcocked was Mike Cooney, then a state representative and now our lieutenant governor.

It’s kind of hard to apologize for something you’re not sure you did, much less why, but I remember seeing Cooney the next day and his head was all bandaged up. Mike, if I was, in fact, your assailant, my deepest apologies.

This is good. I feel a great weight lifted from my shoulders already. So, while I’m at it, I’d like to go all the way back to 1963. Sister Mary Frances, if by some miracle you’re still alive (and I know you believe in miracles), I was the one who purloined your sandwich that one day.

I don’t know what came over me, but when the opportunity presented itself I couldn’t resist. Would it be impious to say the devil made me do it? Anyway, what little pleasure I took in my misdeed evaporated when I saw the look of disappointed sorrow, and hunger, on your face a little while later.

If I hadn’t already flushed your sandwich down the toilet I would have returned it, I swear. As it is, all I can do now is ask you to absolve me of that one sin. Thanks.

And Sue, in high school, when I left that Army entrenching tool on your doorstep, with the cryptic note? I was trying to explain that I had dug myself into a hole I didn’t think I would be able to get out of, but of course you didn’t see it that way because of my poorly worded note. I was not only a cad but an idiot.

I would have apologized at the time, if not for the aforementioned hole I found myself in. I’m really, really sorry.

Hmm. I could run out of room long before I run out of apologies. Allow me to slip into shorthand here and apologize by category. For those fires, whether accidental or intentional, I’m very sorry. God, I used to love fire.

For all things broken, fractured or bruised, including cars, crockery, hearts, windows and bodies, words cannot express how bad I feel. Please forgive me.

For all the dumb things I’ve said or written that caused people pain or mental anguish, particularly when my words bordered on slander or libel, I offer up my apologies, and also remind people of the statute of limitations.

All that remains is a blanket appeal for forgiveness for all the things I’ve forgotten or suppressed.

Oh, and this: To that one politician I walloped in the alley behind the Crystal Lounge—and you know who you are—in about 1992, I will never apologize. You had it coming.

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