From the Department of Feeble Excuses

One day in college, my friend Tiffany pulled an all-nighter to finish a long essay. Despite her efforts and gallons of coffee, she still couldn’t get it done, so she had to ask for an extension. She climbed the stairs to our professor’s office, and crazed with panic and exhaustion, hurtled through the door shouting, “Dr. Glenn, I’ve come to throw my feet at your mercy!”

She got the extension. Mainly because it was such a thrill for him to be present at the birth of a brand new feeble excuse.

At my sister’s house, they have an entire Department of Feeble Excuses. (If I remember right, the phrase “feeble excuses” comes from The Honeymooners, when Ralph Kramden believes that he’s finally got the upper hand with his dreadful wife, Alice. When she tries to set him straight, he cuts her off, saying, “Tut tut! None of your feeble excuses.” Of course, she eventually shows him what a useless moron he has been once again, and he retracts his expressed desire to send her to the moon with his fist, and then pronounces her the greatest. Which isn’t necessarily worse than the way marriage is routinely portrayed on TV in the 21st century, but  . . . hey, has anyone noticed that Ed Norton is basically Tigger?)

The Department of Feeble Excuses at our house regularly issues threadbare explanations to defend the indefensible, to explain the inexplicable, and to attempt to deflect well-deserved shame and disapprobation by being ridiculous. It is perhaps the most prolific of all the departments in the household, and it is surprisingly effective. Here’s a few examples from recent days:

“Sorry we let the baby eat all the brown sugar, Mama. She . . . had a gun.”

Which can’t possibly be technically accurate, and yet I know what they meant. I’ve met that kid. I probably would have helped her strap on that sugar like a nosebag.

Then there was the time that one teenager was making cookies, and the other teenager went in to nab one. The baker yells, “NO!” and the cookie nabber yelps, “Sorry! I forgot who I am!”

I let them work through that existential problem all by themselves.

Then we have that one kid who can’t even bring dress his defense up in actual words, and just starts rolling his eyes and making non-specific gargling noises like malfunctioning garbage disposal. Then he sidles out of the room like a crab. I don’t know why this works, but it almost always does. 

Help me flesh out this feeble excuse for a blog post. Teachers, parents, supervisors, responsible human beings of the world:  What’s the feeblest excuse you’ve ever heard (or offered)? Did it work?



Image: Edward Lear, More Nonsense [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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19 thoughts on “From the Department of Feeble Excuses”

  1. I was going to lose a whole letter grade if I was late one more time to one of my classes, but when it was time to leave for class, I saw a massive spider with terrifying markings in my dorm room. I couldn’t let it find a place to hide, nor could I take a lower grade, so I trapped it in a Tupperware and brought it to class as my feeble excuse. It worked.

    1. OMIGOSH!!!!!!! That is the definition of stress, right there. What was the reaction of your classmates and teacher??

  2. Next time my grandpa asks why I don’t have a boyfriend yet, I plan to take a page from the Coen brothers’ book: “I’ve got to get the family farm back before I can think about that.”

  3. If you want to get political, back in the debates between Clinton and the current president, when she brought up his potentially business practices and use of tax loopholes, he basically said ~”You should have changed the law so I didn’t do bad things. “~
    Because one senator in 1.5 terms can singlehandedly change federal and state law.

  4. A declaration by one brother that we were going to divide and share a giant cookie he just made caused my younger, five year old brother to burst into tears, and scream “Oh GOD WE CAN’T DO THAT!” When we asked why, his reason was “WE’RE NOT ANIMALS!” and then to stomp off wailing, not heeding his too-large, hand-me-down-pants slipping off. We were a little bewildered, especially when he remerged and ate his portion of the cookie with a smile 15 minutes later. I don’t know if I could call that excuse, but this post felt like it needed this story…

  5. My 6yo and 3.5yo daughters have a confused concept of physiology. Their go-to excuse is “My germs are telling me to…”

  6. My son was caught spending too much time playing games on the computer….my husband had looked up the amount of time he was logged in. His excuse was that his eraser had been sitting on his computer mouse and had clicked the mouse/played the game while he was doing his schoolwork.

  7. Me, to my daughter: please come out of that room. (After lengthy opprtunity to comply) Hey, please come out of there….Hey c’mon over here…..come out of the room. COME. OUT OF. THE ROOM.”
    Daughter comes out of room.
    Me: why didn’t you come out of the room?
    Daughter : Oh, I……didnt know I was in the room.

  8. My son name of Jon told a cop I ran the stop sign at the train track because I was busy looking for trains.

  9. “It’s not my fault- I’m a Girl ”
    In a house with one wife, four daughters and 3 female cats.

    I also got “but it isn’t warm enough ” when it was minus 10 celsius outside and I suggested she swap her tiny sweater for an actual coat.

    I do enjoy being Dad to four Daughters but I stopped trying to reason with them years ago. I will never be in the right this side of Heaven.

  10. I have four children. Timmy is the youngest. The second-youngest regularly tried to excuse her terrible behavior with this: “Timmy told me to.”

    That same child once refused to sing a song that the whole family had performed many times. Her excuse: “My finger hurts.” Yeah, The Sound of Music had it first, but she didn’t know. She went on to become a choral director.

    1. “Timmy told me to” – such a familiar excuse around here, too! Because absolutely we must do EVERYTHING the two-year-old tells us.

  11. Many people in our family play online games. Back a few years ago, my ~6 yo son was called for dinner, and said “I can’t – I’m in the middle of a battle!”

    Feeble. But useful, too. I think every person in the house has used it since then, and it’s a recognized excuse for postponement of everything from supper to chores to homeschooling 🙂

  12. Once while going to church with a friend, she told her boys to get ready to leave. The middle son (~10ish) said desperately, “I can’t mom, I have to charge my phone!”

  13. When I asked her to water the new plants I planted this weekend why child literally only turned on the hose. I asked her to actually water the plants, and she said “I thought you were going to do it.” Meaning –
    “If I put in a complete lack of effort, maybe she’ll just forget she asked.” To her credit, many times I ask them to do things when I’m in the middle of something, and forget that I asked them to do it. She did not get away with it this time

  14. Once we asked a kid to do something, I forget what, and he said, “I can’t! I have a piece of hair!”

    That has now become our go to feeble excuse, a decade has passed and it’s still funny. He was three. His sheer panic while excusing himself was what killed us.

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