I know I’m right, but I could be wrong

by Brian Clarey

Interesting things are happening to me as I creep not so gracefully towards the age of 40. I’m losing my hair, to be sure, but male pattern baldness doesn’t bother me as it’s happening the way it did at its onset ‘— as I approach 40 I realize that looks are indeed fleeting and we should count ourselves lucky if we get five good years.

And as I look each day more and more like the butler from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I realize my vulnerability in other areas as well ‘— my structural system, for one, which now cracks and creaks like a poorly-assembled rocking chair when I stand and twist.

Also I’ve come to question the veracity of my own mind. While in my youth I acted with deftness and surety, as I morph into middle age I ask myself more and more the question: What if I’m wrong?

In the last 15 years I have been wrong about a good many things, but I rarely analyzed my course of action, relying solely on instinct. I was wrong about the mullet haircut I wore from 1985 to 1989. I was wrong to turn down a job at the Slidell Daily Sentry when I was 23 because of the middling pay (200 bucks a week, if you can believe it). I was wrong about the best way to drive to New York ‘— although Interstate 95 is more direct, the DC traffic will kill you. You’ll make much better time if you take Highway 220 through Roanoke and then pick up Interstate 81 to 78. Just recently I was wrong when I called a reader an ‘“ass’” in print. And sometimes I sit and wonder what other mistakes I’ve made over the years.

Could I be wrong about my stance on the death penalty? I’ve always thought that we don’t collectively have the right to punitively take the life of another human being. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe some people, like they say in Texas, ‘“need killing.’” But no’… even in this sober light I still say it’s not our place to sit in ultimate judgment.

Perhaps I’m wrong about gay marriage. I never really gave a crap one way or another if a couple of dudes or a pair of ladies wanted to get legally hitched, though in the case of the fellas I never really understood the compunction ‘— one of the best selling points of the male homosexual lifestyle, I always believed, is rampant promiscuity. And maybe I’m wrong about that (I’m sure I’ll get some letters telling me exactly how I’m wrong).

And I suppose I could be wrong about Macintosh computers, as my current desktop model now ranks very highly on the list of machines I’m pissed off at. But if loving a Mac is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

And while I’m trying to punch holes in my various opinions and stances, I might as well put my evaluation of the current president and his administration under the microscope.

I always thought Bush was a child of privilege’… a man who coasted through an upper-crust life on familial and social connections woven through with a veneer of homespun charm. I thought he was a shirker, a Good Time Charlie. And even before the Twin Towers fell and the first troops landed in Iraq, before the waters in New Orleans began to rise, I thought he was the kind of man who would not put too much thought into what he was doing.

Now the war in Iraq seems to me to be an exercise in opportunism, with tenuous ties to terrorism fabricated to harness our shared sense of outrage and our instinctual thirst for vendetta. The fiasco in New Orleans reveals to me a man who does not heed consequence and is willing to shift blame to others.

The climate of fear and helplessness that has been nurtured (and, in my opinion, most certainly capitalized upon) has made it so I can’t bring a lighter on a domestic flight yet in the case of Dubai Ports World these same people who fed our fears are telling us not to sweat this one.

Am I wrong about the ports? Possibly. But I still don’t think it’s a good idea for our major points of entry to be controlled by a company owned by a nation that has actual ties to the razing of the World Trade Center when we are currently destroying the infrastructure of a nation that, it turns out, doesn’t have much of a connection to the events of 9/11 at all.

Am I wrong about President Bush? For the most part, I still think I’m on the money with this guy. But I was wrong about one thing: I never thought he’d get reelected. Live and learn.

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