My Excuse


I read my students this lovely poem by Edwin Romond:

Letter to My Principal

I came to school late today
and I am sorry
I do remember your note
about my punctuality
but a calf was born last night
and I found him blinking
into his first morning.
And Sir,
he was so tiny and white
like a dab of marshmallow
upon the spearmint grass.
So, please understand
I was caught in a sunrise
so gold it change our barn
to pink and sponged the dew
where the calf lay startled
at the light after life
in the black pond of the womb.
I was set to leave, I swear I was
but his mother, her eyes dark
plums, began to bathe him
with her tongue
moving like a paint brush
up and down his milky face.
And when he gazed at me
and mooed like a nervous bassoon
what could I do but stay
until he stood on his own
and began to tiptoe
as if the grass were eggs.

Edwin Romond

Then I gave them this writing prompt: “Now write an excuse of your own.”

Here’s what I came up with:
Dear Citibank Visa,

I am so sorry my payment is late. As you can tell by checking my payment history, I have never missed a payment before, but due to extenuating circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to get this month’s check in on time.

I could lie to you and tell you that I was just diagnosed with cancer (which would in fact have been true just a few short years ago), that I was told I had only two months to live, that my father died and I had to bury him or that a giant mudslide swallowed my house and covered all my bills in a thick brown sludge that made finding, no less paying your bill impossible. I could tell you that my right arm was severed in a four car pile up on I-5, making signing checks impossible or that I checked myself into Sierra Tuscon for my closeted addiction to valium and darvoset.

But fortunately or unfortunately, none of those are the truth.  And since I have made a vow to myself to always tell the truth, no matter what the consequences, I have no choice but to level with you. I just didn’t do it. I had the flu and Eli needed me to drive him to the skin doctor to burn off his warts and Karyn was preparing for her yoga certification and I was thinking that I ought to do something about Thanksgiving because it was less than two weeks away. I had classes to prepare and teach but my friend Nona sent me the link to a new iPhone game, Moxie, which has become somewhat of an obsession, well, let’s face it, I am being honest here, an actual obsession. There is a series of five little squares, three rows of them, 15 in all, and 51 letters appear, one at a time and you have to make words out of the letters. If you spell out the letters of animals you get a bonus. So I always try to get M-O-U-S-E and M-O-O-S-E and G-O-O-S-E and L-O-U-S-E on the top line; If the tiles fall right and I get all four that’s a 1200 point bonus right there. And then I try to get blank A blank E on another line. That can lead to RAZES, DAZES, DAZER, RAKER, MAXED, MAXES, HEXES, MIXES and all kinds of other high scoring combinations. In the middle line, early on, I try to RAT, CAT, BAT and QAT (yes, there are words with Q without the U). If all the tiles fall right, I’ve gotten up to 2500 points, which qualifies me for the global high scores, but when I check those scores there are people getting a thousand points more and I can’t imagine how they possibly do so. I spent a few hours sick in bed this week (okay, well more than a few) going on line and googling “Moxie+cheats” but I haven’t discovered any fans willing to divulge their strategic secrets. I have spent more hours than I care to admit playing this game. I have played it when I should be sleeping. I have played it when I want to be reading. I have played it when I felt so sick I simply didn’t have the attention to do anything else. I’ve even played it at red lights. So I hope you see why I couldn’t possibly do anything as mundane as pay bills. It simply wasn’t possible.

Because of my perfect past payment record and my honesty, I trust that you will waive any late fees and accept my P-A-Y-M-E-N-T in full at this time.

Sincerely,

Laura Davis

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