The apologies keep on coming, washing over us like a teardrop tsunami.

Don Imus. Alec Baldwin. Gov. Corzine. And that's just in the last few weeks. Think back to last year's cornucopia of contrition, with apologies real and pseudo from the likes of Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Rush Limbaugh.

So many apologies, so many of them artless. Afraid that your own stammering mea culpas won't move the meter on the forgiveness dial? Be prepared: assemble an apology kit today. Whether you're a self-absorbed celebrity or a tactless in-law, you'll be ready to clean up those nasty little stains that loose lips and dumb deeds can cause.

Here's what to put in your kit:

Squeeze bottle of artificial tears: To make you look sorry.

Box of tissues: To wipe away the artificial tears.

Book of apology quotations: Borrowed regret is better than none.

Note paper: The smallest size possible, to avoid apologizing too much. Say it quickly, get in, get out.

Disappearing ink: To make sure the words don't linger embarrassingly.

CD of Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry": To set the mood.

And if all that doesn't help you to craft a decent apology, try this: Be sincere.

If that doesn't work, we're sorry.

- Michael D. Schaffer