This morning Carol got started early, when I opened the bathroom door to find her naked in the shower, and exited with a swift apology. But not swift enough. She beat me to it by half a second.
I mean think about it. You've got your hair nicely lathered and are enjoying the luxury, in the chilly winter months, of hot water blasting your skin, soothing your insides and setting you up for the day ahead, when an ageing member of the opposite sex ruins the relaxing moment by blundering in and sending your fight or flight hormones soaring.
I know what I'd have done. I'd have screamed "Oy!". Closely followed by "Get out pervert!"
But not Carol. "Sorry!" she said at the time, then "I'm really sorry" later, when she's dressed and I'm trying to apologise to her. "I should have locked the door," she says.
"Well maybe," I say, "But you're far too quick to apologise. All the time. For everything. Like when that little dog took a liking to your leg and started humping it. You said 'I'm sorry about this' when everyone looked at you.
"You were sorry for what? For making your legs so irresistible that other species want to have sex with them?"
"For stopping the conversation," she says. "For attracting attention."
"It wasn't your fault," I say. "Then there was that time someone smashed a bottle of red wine at a party and the hostess went 'Aw Carol!' and you immediately apologised, even though you hadn't done it. That wasn't your fault.
"Then there was the time your uncle told you he had obsessive compulsive disorder aggravated by being somewhere on the autistic spectrum."
"And I said 'I thought you were just a wanker,'" she says. "And everyone laughed but him."
"So fair enough that was your fault," I say. "And you were right to apologise for hurting his feelings. But not for intending to."
"I didn't mean to upset him," she says. "It was just a one-liner."
"I know it was," I say. "And it was funny. Not because he is a wanker, but because - if you want to get technical - of the bathos of the pithy pejorative juxtaposed with the orotund psychological pseudo-diagnosis."
"That's just what I tried to tell him," she says.
"The thing is," I say, warming to my theme. "The crux of it is that what you're doing all this time is apologising for being you. And that's the last thing you should do. You're smart and funny and kind. Your first thought when someone's in trouble is what can you do to help. I think you're great. You just have to stop apologising."
"You're absolutely right,"she says, and I know what's coming next and that there's no force in the universe strong enough to stop it.
"I'm sorry," she says.
Science of sorry
Men think they've done fewer things wrong, which is why women apologise more often.