Confession No. 119 — Lame excuses are difficult to … excuse

You know what I despise most about excuses? Their blatant overuse.

I’d always prefer that someone just own his actions. But most people don’t like the idea of moving on without injecting the why into the equation.

And that’s when it all tends to go downhill.

There’s a local restaurant that I occasionally patronize. It’s a chain whose specialty is fried chicken, which takes about 16 minutes to cook. Twice during the past six months I’ve walked through its doors during the lunch hour to see only a handful of chicken pieces under the warming lamps.

‘Sorry, Sir. We’ve been busy,’ the manager told me when I was complaining about the wait time for my order.

‘Isn’t that what keeps the restaurant in business? Being busy?’ I inquired. ‘I just don’t understand why someone wasn’t busy cooking chicken while the first batch was going out the door like gangbusters.’

His response was simply the offer of a free meal — on my next visit.

Chances are, that restaurant manager uses his work as an excuse to avoid family reunions, date nights or his mother in-law’s famous tuna casserole. Most of us have. But he might also have a list of justifications to avoid work.

I once knew a guy who didn’t want to come to work. Instead of faking a cough or sore throat, he phoned in and said that his mother had died. Little did he know that the boss really did have a heart and called the funeral home to send flowers.

‘She’s not dead,’ the undertaker said. ‘I saw her at the Piggly Wiggly not an hour ago.’

Indeed her son kept his employment but he wasn’t so lucky with his church, which excommunicated him for taking delivery of food and gifts from their various care committees. (Some churches just don’t have a sense of humor, I suppose.)

Most excuses are no doubt insulting, a waste of time and a blow to someone’s integrity. But, even at the risk of having to find a new church, it would be refreshing if more people would take their queues from my former co-worker, or comedian Eddie Murphy.

Some years ago Murphy was pulled over by a sheriff’s deputy after he’d picked up a cross-dressing prostitute. Authorities arrested the passenger on warrants, but let the actor go. Why? Because Murphy was being a ‘good Samaritan’ giving some poor soul a ride. At least that’s how his publicist described the incident. Believable? No. But it’s so much better than ‘I was drunk and I need to go to rehab.’

The first documented cop-out happened a few thousand years ago in the Garden of Eden, when Eve couldn’t take responsibility for eating the forbidden fruit.

‘I was deceived,’ she proclaimed. ‘It was the serpent’s fault!’

Yeah, right. Blame the serpent. That’s sure to get you off the hook.

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There are few things so wonderful in their simplicity as citrus curds. Sweet. Tangy. Luscious. Though many people use them to fill pies and top cakes, my favorite way to enjoy citrus curd is with shortbread. The following recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, with a couple of minor adjustments. It produces the classic addictive version. Feel free to substitute standard lemons or limes.

Meyer Lemon Curd

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Meyer Lemon Curd — Sweet. Tangy. Luscious.

3 oz. (6 TB) – Unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup – Granulated sugar
2 large – Eggs
2 large – Egg yolks
2/3 cup – Fresh Meyer Lemon juice
1 tsp – Grated Meyer Lemon zest

With a stand mixture or in a large bowl with an electric mixture, beat the butter and sugar until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and yolks. Mix for another minute. Add the lemon juice and combine. The mixture will appear curdled but no worries. It will become smooth as it cooks.

In a double-boiler or medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. Add the grated lemon zest. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. It’s done when it reaches 170°F. (Don’t let the mixture boil.)

Transfer curd to a large bowl and press plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cool for a few hours (it will thicken more during cooling), then devour.

This recipe is easily doubled and freezes well for a couple of months.


  1. Lemon curd. God’s gift to all of us.
    Love this stuff.

  2. YUMMM! You have a lemon tree, right? At least I think that is what I remember…

  3. Actually, the first “cop-out” was from Adam; Adam blamed God and he blamed Eve for his own disobedience and inability to take responsibility for his own actions. It was only after Adam’s cop-out that God turned to Eve to ask her for an explanation. Eve’s response was not a cop-out, it was true, she was deceived; and Paul in the New Testament confirms her deception. Adam knowingly rebelled against God and Eve was deceived – that’s how they both disobeyed God.

  4. As an HR leader, I hear employees, daily, giving one or more variations of the “it’s not my fault” sob story. Years ago, I had a district manager who used to say something I hated, but which I now say regularly to these same employees: “it may not be your fault, but it is your problem, so start fixing it…”
    Crass, perhaps…but it gets the point across in a succinct and effective way…

    Lemon curd, I love. And also grapefruit, lime and tangerine curd. It’s so versatile! Thanks for sharing!

  5. So my excuse that I couldn’t do the dishes because there were no more paper towels hanging on the rack to dry them with wouldn’t fly with you, huh? 😉

    I love lemon curd! I blogged a microwavable version last year. No matter how you use ’em, Meyer lemons are pure awesomeness!

    • adamjholland says:

      That actually would fly with me, Becca. Of course, I’d leave about a dozen bowls of half-eaten oatmeal for you next time around. 😉 I remember your microwave version, by the way! 🙂

  6. Love this post, especially at this very moment. And I’m not talking about lemon curd!! God bless 🙂

  7. I have a coworker whose excuse for not getting to work on time every morning is that she has a child to get ready. Nevermind that said child is now almost 4, and can pretty much get ready herself…My coworker is simply lazy, and her supervisor allows her to get away with it.

    I love citrus anything, and would love some lemon curd right about now…In a tart, with some whipped cream. I’m also rather intrigued by the notion of grapefruit curd….

    • adamjholland says:

      The problem with your co-worker’s excuse is — she knows there is a child to get ready. So, set the damn alarm to get up earlier! 🙂

  8. I used to work with a woman who – when giving me a last minute assignment that had to be completed ASAP – would apologize and say, “I know an emergency on my part should not result in a problem on your part. But I would really appreciate if you could get this done quickly.” The fact she apologized and acknowledged she was the one delayed made me willing to help her. Being a little humble goes a very long way.

    Lemon Curd … I dunno. I think of Little Miss Muffet and that big spider debuting.

  9. “… injecting the why into the equation.” Brilliant description, Adam! Thanks for your anecdotes and observations on this pervasive habit.

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