Apologies for a
Last updated 1-29-09 at 12:31 p.m.
By Wayne Chan
Northwest Asian Weekly
It’s never too late to make an apology. Still, 25 years is probably pushing it a little.
My cousin Roger came to visit me the other day. I hadn’t seen him in a few years, but as always, it was great spending time with him. We had the chance to catch up with each other and reminisce about the “good ol’ days.”
Except with Roger, the good ol’ days weren’t always that good, especially when we were together.
You see, Roger is seven years younger than I am, which meant that when I was 16, Roger was 9. And as the older cousin, I took it as my job — dare I say even my responsibility — to tease and torment him at every possible opportunity.
Unfortunately for Roger, I was exceptionally good at my job.
I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, mind you. No, as I recall, it was boilerplate teasing, occasional wedgies, and tickling that always seemed to be involved.
While my memory of this is pretty hazy, Roger apparently managed to mentally categorize every unflattering nickname, incident, and humiliation I ever unleashed on him.
What’s perplexing is that I always thought I was the gentle one. After all, I also have a younger brother, Steve, who is three years younger than me but still four years older than Roger. As my baby brother, Steve was the first to withstand my pranks, and I think he took particular pleasure in finally being the tormentor instead of just the tormentee.
In fact, there were times where I stopped Steve from going overboard with Roger. I mean, it’s one thing to pour a bit of vinegar in someone’s mouth while he’s sleeping, but adding a tablespoon of wasabi to it crossed the line.
For all my fellow eldest siblings out there, we are all part of a club that recognizes the fine art of aggravating our younger siblings. Our intent was not to create pain. Discomfort? Yes. Public humiliation? Of course. But with many years of practicing and refining our craft, creating any kind of pain is not only unnecessary but downright unsophisticated.
Yes, I was the kind one.
Still, after all these years, if Roger is still a bit distraught, I am big enough to offer a public apology.
Roger, for that time when I lay you on top of a blanket and rolled you up into a human burrito, please forgive me.
For that time I created the “Man” test in which you were challenged to keep both of your arms up for a count of 10 while I tickled you profusely under your arms in order for you to prove that you were a man, I apologize. I also regret taking four minutes to count to 10.
For that time when you fell asleep on our recliner and I gently poured warm water all over the front of your shorts and waited for you to wake up so that I could feign shock and dismay, I am truly sorry.
Roger is now an adult, and he turned out to be a terrific person, as I knew he would. And yet, when he came to visit and saw my 10-year-old son, Tyler, Roger put his arm around Tyler and said, “Tyler, let me show you a few things.” He then turned his back to me and half jokingly said, “It’s payback time.”
So Tyler, my son — I’m afraid I owe you an apology, too. (end)
Wayne Chan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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