Something Neutral

Pretty sure I owe you an apology
for that half-assed compliment I gave
at your fifth grade recital
the other year.
It was knee-jerk and thoughtless
and had I thought about it more
I would not have been half so careless
with what I said.

I just never dreamed
you would take my words to heart like that
and believe in my praise
to such an extent
that you would go on
to try your hand
at musical theater
so tirelessly
so ceaselessly
so painfully.

I did not imagine
you would have it in you
to push yourself so hard
to work your fingers to the bone
all because you saw a life for yourself
working the boards
because of some stupid thing I’d done
in saying "good job,"
or "nice work,"
or whatever it might have been
that made you consider the possibility
that any of this
could at all be worth your time.

I was being polite, kid.
You were crap
like all the other worthless eleven year olds
in the room
and I could have been honest
but I had places to be
and I thought
"why say something negative
when you can get away
with something neutral?"

I see why now.
I’m so sorry you’ve wasted your life so far.
There’s no future for you in the pictures.
I can’t believe you took it so serious.
I feel responsible.
I won’t ever be so cavalier
with my compliments
again.

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