How To Unscrew Your Screw-Up

So you may or may not have seen my previous column about getting your girlfriend to watch football with you. Some people thought I came off a bit... sexist. After seeing the post on Facebook, one reader called me misogynistic and another wrote "Shoot the writer" but then followed up with a wink emoticon, so I couldn't tell if my life was actually threatened or just ironically threatened. Either way, I was in hot water. More importantly, I was in trouble at home. My girlfriend definitely took issue with the column. She specifically hated the not-so-gender-friendly line "Trying to convince a woman to get interested in football is like trying to teach a cat to juggle." For some reason, women hate being compared to cats. They also hate juggling. That's a double-whammy, friends.

So what's a guy to do when he accidentally starts a Battle of the Sexes Royal Rumble? Apologize. Again and again and again. To anyone offended by last week's column: I'm sorry. Unlike the band Chicago, it's not that hard for me to say I'm sorry.

Apologies are necessary when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. In my book, there are three levels of apology and, like all things, the apologies can (and should) be expressed with food.

LEVEL ONE: Oh no you din't.

This is where I'm at right now. Level One is all about saying something stupid. "Does this dress make me look fat?" "Not fat, but a little boxy." That's a classic Level One. You put your foot in your mouth and now you've got to make things right. Chocolates are a standard Level One apology. You can also go for soft-serve, cupcakes, or the all-important (but non-matrimonially binding) Ring Pop. The key is sugar. Just make sure that your Level One apology is sincere and not just an excuse to buy cupcakes for yourself.

LEVEL TWO: No sex for you.

Went a little further this time, didya? You had lunch with an ex and you conveniently forgot to tell your partner about it. Real smooth. The problem is, your partner found out. She/he always will. Now you're in big trouble and you've got to make best friends with the couch for a few nights. How do you say "I'm sorry" in the language of Level Two? You go out for dinner. A nice dinner. To THEIR favorite place. You explain that you want to take time to explain yourself and a nice meal is exactly the right amount of time for that. At the end of the meal, you surprise them with a Level One apology gift, too. Cover your bases, seamus.

LEVEL THREE: Maybe we should think about taking a break...

You slept with somebody else. You're officially a bad person. The relationship is most likely over, but if this was somehow an isolated incident that will never ever happen again, then you can offer a Level Three apology. You're going on vacation together. Vacation offers you ample time to work on your issues. It also demonstrates a commitment to fixing an obvious problem. Find a nice all-inclusive resort and go back to the days of your first date. Eat, pray, love – not necessarily in that order and maybe skip the pray part. Celebrate the time you have together because, Dude, you messed up and it's going to take a whole lot of Level One and Level Two apologies to get things back to normal.

Of course, I'm not suggesting these as bribes to get out of trouble. These are merely gifts to accompany your real apology. If the sincerity isn't there, no amount of chocolate or vacations will fix your problems. The good news is, we all make mistakes. The key is apologizing in the right way to make up for those mistakes. Chocolate is magic. Use it wisely.