DEAR MISS MANNERS: I felt compelled to apologize to a friend for a careless remark I made at a dinner party because, although it was of a general nature, on reflection I think it might have caused offense. I composed a sincere apology and sent it by email. She replied by saying she didn't recall anything that was offensive and jokingly asked what had I said.
Should I have politely said, "Let's just leave it in the past," and left her wondering? Or am I now worse off for having offered up my stupid statement again, but with fewer words? Our conversation ended amicably, but I am not sure I handled it well.
GENTLE READER: Your friend certainly handled it well, reassuring you to the extent of claiming that she didn't even remember your saying anything that could have been construed as offensive. Even her little joke offered you the opportunity to edit your remark, or to add, "... but what I meant was" and then declare the opposite of what you said.
You missed doing that, but Miss Manners would not have advised you to leave your friend guessing. You wouldn't want to challenge her to find something that can be interpreted as rude.