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Even when I try to get it right, I get it wrong

A few weeks ago in this column, I "disrespected" cows by saying they are stupid. Several people took exception to this statement, including my own mother, who was a rodeo queen in Wyoming (a very cow-intensive region of our country), which means she knows a lot more about Cow IQs (and also barrel racing) than I do.

The other person who completely disagreed with me was my good friend Shelly, an avid collector of contemporary cow artifacts such as cow beanie babies and so forth. Anyway, Shelly told me I was very wrong about Our Animal Friend the Cow, so I told her to watch the paper for my formal apology. In fact, every time I saw her I reminded her to watch the paper for my formal apology. In fact, every time I saw her I reminded her to read the column when it came out on Thursday because BABY I was GOING TO MAKE IT UP TO HER!So this is what I did. At the end of my column I tucked in the following little message.

AUTHOR'S NOTE TO SHELLY AT WASATCH: I'm sorry I said cows are stupid. Even if they are."

I happen to think this is a very nice formal apology. Don't you? Only when it came out in the paper on Thursday the word "Smelly" somehow got substituted for the word "Shelly." Well, I think you can see the problem here. All week long I beg my friend to read my column because I'm going to formally apologize to her, and when she finally does, she thinks I am DROPPING HINTS that she smells bad.

So, let me try this again.

AUTHOR'S NOTE TO SHELLY: Shelly, I'm truly sorry I "disrespected" cows. Also, I'm sorry I said you were smelly. Also, I just realized I spelled your name wrong in the first place, because your name is actually "Shellee," not "Shelly," which just goes to prove that cows aren't the only stupid ones in town.

Not that cows are stupid.

Everybody knows it's just an act with cows.

OK. My little experience with Shellee reminded me of an important lesson: You will be much happier in this life if you just accept up-front the fact that things (such as formal apologies in the newspaper) are never going to be perfect. This is particularly true of family vacations such as the one we just went on. In fact, I think we all ought to acknowledge before we get in our cars and drive off together that the following NOT PERFECT things will happen: 1. You will think that your husband is taking too many shoes on your vacation. 2. Your husband will think you don't understand why it is critically important to have along his favorite pair of hiking boots in case you get the chance to go hiking somewhere even though everybody knows you are going to the beach. 3. You will have a fight about his stupid hiking boots in front of all the neighbors as you load the car. 4. Your kids, who are already sitting in the car that you and your husband are trying to load up with your husband's hiking boots, will think fighting in public looks like so much fun they'll promptly start smacking each other over the head with their Game Boys. 5. Their Game Boys will run out of batteries before you finish loading the car with hiking boots. 6. Nobody speaks to each other by the time you drive off. 7. In spite of yourselves, you'll probably have a good time. Especially if you don't expect perfection in the first place and you buy a lot more batteries. Bon voyage! (Author's note to Todd: Thanks for the idea.)