"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
July 2, 2012
Excuses, Excuses!
by Kathryn H. Kidd

As someone who has spent a lot of time editing online magazines, I'm used to getting late submissions from writers. This is something that doesn't exactly make me happy, because I like to do my work weeks ahead of time and it's a little bit hard to do that if I don't get a column until the day before it is scheduled to run.

Sure enough, I got to work last Monday to find that I still needed a movie review for Tuesday's issue of the Nauvoo Times. I sent off an email to Andy Lindsay, and this is what I got in response:

"OK, I know I'm late. But I have a really good excuse. Actually, I have several really good excuses, and I hate to use them all up at once, but since this is actually a truthful summation of my week, I can't really bank them and use them later. Anyway, since returning from DC, I have experienced the following:

  • I had a hard drive crash
  • I caught a cold
  • I contracted pink eye
  • A bat landed on my face
  • I got rabies shots

Other than the aforementioned reasons, I have no good explanation for being behind schedule. Here's an article for Tuesday; two more coming later today or tomorrow."

You know, if somebody's going to give me an excuse, I really appreciate getting a good one. Anybody can get a cold, but it takes someone with a creative life to have a facial encounter with a bat.

I like people like that.

I wrote back to him and said,

"I laughed so hard I almost had an accident. I'm tempted to write a column about your letter. That's the funniest thing I've seen today.

"I take it the bat didn't make it?"

Here is his response:

"The bat incident occurred in my bedroom at 2:30 in the morning. Someone (I am unable to mention my wife's name here) left the attic door open and the little winged fellow found his way into our room where he was overcome with sudden affection for me and landed on my sleeping face. I woke up and shooed him off, then opened the window to let him out. It wasn't until a few days later that it dawned on me that I should have captured him and taken him to animal control to see if it was rabid. Since I didn't, and at the advice of several qualified medical professionals, I presented myself at the ER for a series of not-so-pleasant inoculations designed to prevent me from turning into a vampire. I have to go back three more times, as well. As for fodder for your column, well, help yourself. I have my own column to worry about, and it has gotten more difficult to type now that I find myself hanging upside down from the curtains trying to hold on to my laptop."

Now that's the kind of email I like. It was short, and to the point, and it left me with a wonderful image of Andy hanging from the curtains by his toes and futilely wondering how to use his mouse.

Of course, excuses (even good ones) are part of the human condition. We strive for perfection, we fall short, and then we make up stories to explain to ourselves (and to others) why we failed to toe the mark. Some of those stories are better than others, as Andy's emails can attest. Most of the time the stories are true. Most of the other times the stories are at least partially true, or even mostly true. (Most of the people I deal with regularly don't deal in outright fabrications, and that's a nice thing.)

I've known people who are pretty intolerant of the shortcomings of others. I'm not one of those persons. I can't afford to be. I mess up every day - not once, but dozens of times. Some of those things I catch immediately. Other things I don't catch until they're pointed out to me.

I don't ever make mistakes on purpose. Otherwise, they'd be "purposes" and not "mistakes." No, every time I goof up, it's because I'm human. That means I'm careless, or I'm stupid, or distracted, or sometimes all of the above. I've been distracted a whole lot lately, and that means I've been swimming in my own mistakes.

The reason I am so cheerful about the shortcomings of others is not that I'm a normally cheerful person. It's that I want others to be kind to me when I mess up, and the Lord's Prayer specifically implies that we are forgiven to the same extent that we forgive others. That's something I need.

When I mess up, I don't want somebody telling me how stupid I am. I know that already! What I want is for somebody to say, "Well, you made a mistake here but you'll do better next time." When somebody says that to me, I want to make sure to do better next time, just to prove him right. And I assume others feel the same way, so I try to give them the same consideration I'd want for myself.

Of course, it always helps if a person can write an apology letter as good as Andy Lindsay's. Yes, it might involve importing a bat and ruining your draperies and undergoing a whole raft of painful injections, but that's a small price to pay when your travails cause people to laugh all over Planet Kathy.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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