I was sitting in a fast food restaurant, watching my kids enjoy the play area, when I spotted a dear friend. I have a unique history with this friend, whom we'll call "Dee."

Dee and I first met sixteen years ago via telephone. I had left a message inquiring about a church program for young mothers, and she returned the call. Unfortunately, hubby thought he recognized the number as a buddy's, so he answered, "First Baptist Bar and Grill!"

A bit stricken, he handed the phone to me, and mouthed, "Sorry!"

I was mortified, and apologized profusely. Thankfully, Dee has a sense of humor, and still allowed me to join the group.

Nevertheless, as soon as I met her face to face, I apologized again for hubby's ill-mannered phone greeting. It was the beginning of sixteen years' worth of apologizing. Not that she is easily offended, because nothing could be further from the truth. And heaven knows that by fourth grade, overly developed, chubby girls like me have already acquired a thick skin, so I'm not likely to ever be offended by anything Dee says.

I think the problem is that she and I are extremely comfortable with one another, so we say pretty much whatever pops into our heads. Later, as we rethink it, one of us will invariably call the other and say, "You know, I probably shouldn't have said such and such. I'm really sorry."

And the one on the receiving end of the call will say, "No, I'm sorry! I should never have implied such and such."

It is similar to those old Chip and Dale Chipmunk cartoons.

"After you!"

"No, after you!"

"No, I insist, after you!"

It got so bad at one point that we agreed to never apologize again, unless one of us accidentally burns down the other's house, or runs over her family dog with a Mack truck. Specifically a Mack truck, because if we are in the mini-van, we have a passel of kids in the backseat and would be understandably distracted.

We did pretty well with our agreement until I saw her at the fast food joint. It had been quite a while since we've really chatted, so I invited her to sit with me. But she said that her time was limited, and she was there to be one-on-one with her teen daughter. And then she apologized.

And then, I apologized for interrupting their special time.

And then, she apologized for making me feel like I had intruded.

And then, I apologized for making her feel like she had made me feel like I had intruded.

And then we stopped, and she said, "You better not call me tonight and tell me you're sorry."

And even though I thought of fifty things I could have apologized for during our short conversation, I refrained from picking up the phone.

I hope it doesn't bother her to be written about in the newspaper. I should call right now and tell her I'm sorry.