Saying sorry has become an obsession | Whale

I just caught the latest installment of “Am I Really Sorry?,” that whacky new form of entertainment that’s sweeping the nation.

For the few who don’t know what I’m talking about, “Am I Really Sorry?,” is only the buzz of the water-cooler conversation, the whattup of talk radio, the going grist of the late-night comedian.

It’s simple. Take a wrongdoer, preferably a celebrity, and in front of the whole country wring an apology from the erring soul. Then talking heads on CNN and Fox News and the public at large dissect the apology and sit in judgment on the wrongdoer, giving them the final say by accepting or rejecting the apology.

In other words, some guy steps on another guy’s toes in Miami, and in a studio in far-off Winnemuka, Nev., or at a shack in Bugtussle Texas, some schlub whose toes are unstepped on, yowls, demands an apology and scores it real or fake.

Makes perfect sense.

If this were an actual game show – and it’s hard to rule out anything these days – I would set “Am I Really Sorry” on a stage in the middle of a giant fishbowl. Only, instead of the usual studio audience, the inner surface of the fishbowl would be lined with hundreds of television screens, each filled with the hairy eye of a talking head or alternatively, a Joe Sixpack.

Add a host with perfect teeth and perfect hair, and you might have something like this:

“And who do we have in the seat of contrition tonight?” asks an unseen announcer.

“Well, Charlie, tonight we’ve got a hot-as-blazes scandal, I mean it’s smokin’ baby. Here we’ve got Mr. No Good Jones, who cheated on his wife.”

Music strikes up, lights dance across the stage. Finally, we see a man on a stool under the hot lights. Dozens of cameras surround him. Wires attached to his body measure the sincerity of his response to the accuracy of a new unit of measure, the nanosincere.

A panel of pundits, psychologists and assorted experts sit at the ready.

“Are we ready?,” says our host. “Then let’s get ready to grovel!”

“Tonight’s transgressor, Mr. No Good Jones, was caught not with one, not two, not three but with seven mistresses. People, it looks like this guy wrecked his marriage, alienated his kids and his fans, even got himself kicked out of Safeway. So, are you ready to apologize to all the people you hurt?”

“Uh, I’m really, really sorry,” Jones says. “I’ve destroyed everything, hurt my wife and kids. I just want one more chance. To the folks from Maine to Seattle, I’m really sorry. And I swear I won’t do it again.”

“And there you have it, Mr. No Good Jones’ apology to the hurting heart of an aggrieved nation. His wife doesn’t seem to be here, so let’s ask America, which is no doubt offended by what happened between this man and his wife. Let’s play Am I really sorry!”

Camera cuts to a TV screen.

“First, we’ve got Fred out in Neah Bay, Washington. Was No Good Jones sincere? Do you think he meant it? Go ahead, my man.”

“Are you kidding?” says Fred. “Pee yuu, I mean somebody crack open a window! I’m mad as hell, and in no way do I accept his apology for cheating on me, er, his wife.”

“Yeah, the whole thing seem a bit scripted, lacking spontaneity,” says our host. “Well, the boys in our lab have completed their lightning-fast analysis. And here’s what the Sincerograph, our exclusive, patented, super-sensitive, super swift measuring instrument has to say. Ooh, too bad, doesn’t look good for Mr. No Good Jones …

“But I meant it, I really meant it,” Jones protests.

A tear collects on his cheek. A technician sucks it up with a dropper and hustles off with it.

“Our high-speed super camera caught a tiny, telltale quiver on No Good’s lying lip. Our on-set chemist has measured the salt content in No Good’s tears and an electrician has measured his galvanic skin reaction. Our on-set psychologists have carefully analyzed his body movements, our electrodes have measure the pucker of his, well … never mind.

“Our conclusion: this wasn’t really sorry! I think we have to give that apology a thumbs down.”

Next week the show will give us the failings of a mystery celebrity caught prancing in his wife’s underwear.

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