13 Ways of Looking at Mea Culpa – Billeh Nickerson

DaveBleasdale: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sidelong/


Whether it was the drugs or just the early nineties in general, every time you hear the words Mea Culpa you think of the techno song by the band whose first hit was about the Marquis de Sade. Sometimes you find it difficult to say Mea Culpa in anything other than the song’s breathy whisper, so now your confessions sound vacuous and hyper-sexualized. This causes people to question your sincerity.


There have been occasions when people have said Mea Culpa and it’s made you think of pastries, and other times when you’ve thought that someone was talking about a sexually transmitted disease. You wonder how long before Calvin Klein uses Mea Culpa as the name for this next perfume.


If Mea Culpa were a drag queen you’d call her Mia Culpa.


The earliest Mea Culpa you remember involves an uncle farting. In retrospect, this is probably the most prevalent cause of Mea Culpa by those around you. You can understand this happening when there’s more than the two of you in a room, but when it’s just you and the farter, these Mea Culpa strike you as unnecessary and as a strategic attempt to distract you from the smell.


Mea Culpa minus the blame = telling people it’s your birthday


If Barry Manilow screws up does he call it a Mea Culpacabana?


Avoid the temptation of bulk sized Mea Culpa. It should not come with 2 for 1 coupons, promotional discounts or the dreaded Buy one Mea Culpa at the regular price and get a second Mea Culpa of equal or lesser value for free! Onus should always be priced in full.


Nothing breaks your heart more than a Mea Culpa by parents acknowledging undesirable genetic traits they’ve passed on to a child. But is it really a Mea Culpa if you have no control over your actions?


You’ve learned to never trust people who proclaim Mea Culpa about the weather.


No matter how good your intentions or the level of your sincerity, if your household has a parrot who learns to say Mea Culpa it will always lessen the impact on your own Mea Culpa.


What does it mean when your child’s first words are Mea Culpa?


You recall the time someone at a potluck announced she forgot an ingredient in her dish and from that moment on you swear all you could taste was her Mea Culpa.


In the unlikely event of a depressurization, the Mea Culpa will fall down automatically. Please place over your nose and mouth and breathe normally. Remember to secure your own Mea Culpa before assisting others.

Billeh Nickerson is a former competitive junior curler. He is not sure how this has impacted his poetry, but he’s sure it has. He is the author of The Asthmatic Glassblower, Let Me Kiss It Better: Elixirs for the Not So Straight and Narrow, and his most recent collection McPoems, which chronicles life on the other side of the fast food counter. He also co-edited Seminal: the Anthology of Canada’s Gay Male Poets and is currently working on a new anthology with Mariko Tamaki entitled Permanent Markers. He teaches creative writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Metro Vancouver, and will be spending the Summer in Dawson City, Yukon as the Berton House Writer-in-Residence. Wish him luck with the flies. His website is http://www.billeh.com