It’s a beautiful day on the Belmont Abbey College campus, but within Room 105A of the O’Connell dorms a storm is rumbling. The hum of the air conditioner is irritating me, and I’ve re-read the same sentence three times. I want to clear my throat, but I don’t want to make any noise. My roommate Lilly is sitting on her bed across from me, and she and I are both glued determinedly to our copies of St. Augustine’s Political Writings. Lilly and I are currently not speaking to each other, as we have just had a heated disagreement and are now sitting in deafening silence. Maintaining this silence is difficult for me, since I can rarely hit the five-minute mark without saying something to Lilly. I’d love to tell her about who I saw at breakfast, or the good grade I just got, or at least ask her if we could have our friend Maya over tonight… but I’m not about to sacrifice my dignity and go crawling back. Instead, I’ll give her the silent treatment. Once Lilly notices how unusually quiet I’m being, she’ll realize that I’m mad, and then she’ll feel bad. But I won’t spare her a glance, and will instead wordlessly continue my homework with noble suffering.
Lilly puts on her headphones.
Drat. She’s not going to notice that I’m sulking if she’s busy listening to music. I need to accidentally-on-purpose get her attention. I try throwing a sock clear across the room and into my hamper, but sadly this is too regular an occurrence for Lilly to glance up. Perhaps I should take a more direct approach?
“Hey,” Lilly says as she moves her headphones off one ear.
“Yeah, what’s up?” I respond in what I hope is a miffed tone.
“What’re the pages we’re reading for Dr. Hren?”
“Okay that’s what I thought, thanks.”
Lilly puts her headphones back on.
Okay, that made some waves. Unfortunately though, I’m not feeling sweet revenge. I’m feeling uncomfortable. My misery is going unacknowledged, and, for some reason, Lilly is acting as if nothing were the matter. I’m just sitting on my bed, disgruntled, in my own personal cloud of dejection. I should be doing my homework, but my mood is making it difficult to focus. As I grab my room key and walk to the bathroom, I try to worry less about Lilly and more about my midterm grade for Dr. Hren’s class.
I’m sitting down on my bed, post-bathroom trip, and realize something’s been placed on my copy of Political Writings. What is that, a bug? I squint: it’s an Oreo.
“What’s up?” Lilly takes her headphones off.
I hold up the Oreo. “Is this for me?”
“Yes!” Lilly looks at me with a smile kind enough to make me feel like garbage. “I’m sorry I upset you earlier, and I wanted to cheer you up.”
“Oh,” I consider the Oreo in my hand. “Thank you,” followed by a weak smile.
Lilly beams at me before putting her headphones back on. I eat the Oreo, feeling stupid. This Saturday’s argument with Lilly had taught me a valuable lesson that I would not forget: forgiveness.
This Oreo olive branch became the solution to our disagreements. Lilly would leave an Oreo on my bed, or my book, or simply hand it to me, or in some cases where emphasis was needed, chuck it at my head. But the Oreo would always come with an apology that, like the Oreo itself, I couldn’t help but accept. It wasn’t long before I picked up on this practice. If I used Lilly’s mug without asking, or left our window open and bugs got in, or I spilled Gatorade on her copy of The Theban Plays, I’d offer her an Oreo.
While I don’t remember what Lilly and I were arguing about that Saturday, I do remember that she forgave me, and in doing so taught me how to apologize like a Catholic instead of sulk like a heathen. Asking for someone’s forgiveness requires more than an Oreo; it requires humility, and that you acknowledge what you did wrong. But I realized that it’s better to lose your pride than to lose your friend, and that while requesting forgiveness isn’t pleasant, it’s a lot more palatable when there’s an Oreo involved. I was able to focus on my homework a lot more easily, too, which Dr. Hren was thankful for. Forgiveness truly makes the world go ‘round.