American culture has lately become saturated with an "I'm always right, you're always wrong" attitude. We could all do with a dose of humility, and that includes me. Look, I can be a know-it-all. My excuse is that I just like to gain and share knowledge, but not everybody appreciates my "Actually..."s. So while I take pride in my relatively high batting average when it comes to being right, below are nine notable exceptions.
- My father's wife. My parents divorced when I was four. My mother soon remarried. My father played the field for several years. I liked nearly all of the women he dated, except for one, and that was the one he chose to wed. 27 years later, they're still happy together, and I'll tell anyone that my stepmother is a good egg and the right match for my dad. But I sure didn't see it that way when I was twelve.
- Titanic. In 1993, I did graphic design for an interactive documentary about the Titanic. So when James Cameron's dramatized account was released in 1997, I was among the first to see it. Sitting in the theater, I found Titanic so bad that I literally said to myself, "This is a horrible movie," when Leonardo DiCaprio was teaching Kate Winslet how to spit. I was positive that the rest of the audience felt the same, and as I walked out of the cinema, I was convinced Titanic would bomb.
- Twitter. Most Internet businesses fail, so when Twitter first came out, I didn't think it would catch on. Who would bother writing 140-character updates about their life? Who would bother reading those updates? Millions, as it turns out.
- Progressive rock. Now, here's something I thought was good, when it wasn't. Sure, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Genesis, etc. have their fans, and I retain a certain nostalgia for this noodly, pretentious music, as it was the soundtrack of my teenage years. But what a waste of my 1980s angsty youth: I ignored The Smiths, The Cure, and R.E.M. at their creative peaks because I was too busy listening to boring old Yes albums!
- The death penalty. It's hard to explain why I believed in the death penalty in the first place. I suppose I had a callowly cynical attitude of: the fewer people on this planet, the better. It was only when I learned that it cost more to send someone to death than to imprison them for life that I changed my opinion. That was when I was in my late twenties. Then the actual moral issues about state-sponsored murder came in play, and now my opposition to the death penalty is firm.
- Pee-wee Herman. It wasn't that I thought Paul Reubens's manchild persona would be a miss with audiences or critics. But in 1985, when Pee-wee's Big Adventure was a monster hit, I couldn't stand this man. I thought his popularity was a sign of the impending Stupidocalypse. Years later, I watched his Saturday morning TV show and saw the 1985 movie, and came to see that he was very clever indeed.
- Emily Deschanel's career. This item may seem arbitrary, to say the least, but here's why I'm listing it: In 2002, Ms. Deschanel, then a relative unknown, auditioned for my film Claustrophobia. I found her reading halfhearted and did not cast her. Despite her family connections (famous sister and father), I didn't see her career going anywhere. Three years later, she was starring in Bones. It's hard to say what might have happened to my movie had I cast her.
- The 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. I honestly didn't think the majority of Americans would elect George W. Bush in 2000. (Of course the majority didn't elect him, but that's an argument for another time.) And I sure didn't think that the majority of Americans would re-elect him four years later. Boy, did I blow it on that one. One could argue that we all did.
- My wife. I met my future wife in 2002. We went out for a few weeks. To say that things didn't work out back then would be an understatement. For eight months, in fact, we didn't speak to each other. I assumed we would never cross paths again. Then in 2003 she reconnected with me. One thing led to another, and two years later we were married. Since then I've been the happiest I've ever been. Sometimes it's good to be wrong.