I was in a show once and there was a young girl who stood next to me. So far so good right? We were in a big line across the stage and then we would all turn to face right which meant that she was then in front of me. Ok, still with me? Every single rehearsal and every single performance this young girl screwed up. All 23 of us would be kicking forward and she would inevitably would kick backward. And that means she was kicking me right in my shin. Every. Single. Time.
But, I couldn’t let it show on my face that my shin was swelling and I wanted to scream. I had to look like I enjoyed being kicked in the same spot really hard by a tall chick in character shoes. Some people may enjoy that, I am sure there are videos out there for those who do, I don’t. And every night we would come off stage and she would turn to me with a worried look on her face and say in her most sincere voice ” I am SO sorry!!” and I would reply in my most sincere voice “It’s ok.” and I would limp off to get changed for the next number. Every. Single. Time.
Now, I was getting less tolerant and more angry as the weeks went by. I was very resentful that this chick couldn’t get this right. It wasn’t that hard. I mean, 23 other people did it right every night. I tried not to take the kick to the shin personally. This chick was far too young and far too scared to actually be kicking me on purpose. The bitch who was old enough and brave enough to outright kick me was at the other end of the line. But she’s another story. The last weekend of the show I couldn’t take it anymore. Before we even went out for the number I turned to the chick and said “Please, please do not kick me tonight.” and she said “Ok, I won’t I promise I will get it right!” and out we went.
Every. Single. Time. Like clock work I felt the now familiar flare of pain radiate up my leg. As soon as we got off stage she turned to me with tears in her eyes and said ‘I am SO sorry!” Too little too late. I said “I never want to hear you say I’m Sorry again. Just STOP KICKING ME!!!!” And I turned and stormed off to our dressing room. The poor girl cried at that one. She had to redo all of her makeup. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? One, two-o-o three-e-e CrUnCh. How many kicks does it take to piss me off royally? One, two-o-o, three-e-e, twenty-five and ENOUGH!!!
This was the best lesson I ever had about the power of forgiveness. She kept telling me she was sorry but she continued to kick me. So, how sorry was she really? I guess “sorry” didn’t mean much to her. Or maybe it was me saying “it’s ok” that gave her the idea that she didn’t really have to change. I find it wonderous that I put up with it as long as I did. I have a high tolerance for asshole-ish-ness behavior and a higher tolerance for pain. The first 15 kicks to the shin I truly believed she was just young and new. I was young and new once. I had made mistakes. The next 10 kicks, I started to understand that she was just ignorant. Ok, what was I going to do about it? Kick her back? Move my spot? Loosen the heels of her shoes so that on her nightly kick to my shin she would topple over like a rag doll?
I told her exactly what I needed to hear. Don’t apologize anymore, just change your behavior. Because if you’re truly sorry, you will change so that you never do that again. Making amends. I wonder how many shins I kicked? But in making amends, I will never kick another shin. And if I do, I will apologize and not do it again. Actions speak louder than words. Bruises fade, but actual change can last a lifetime. Today, in addition to an apology, I change the offensive behavior whether that means no beans before bedtime or using a napkin rather than the couch, I do it.
The young chick did go on to join The Rockettes. She was subsequently fired for breaking the leg of the girl behind her with an exceptionally hard kick to the shin. She was last seen kicking clients in a fetish club downtown and she never has to say she’s sorry. It’s all for the best.