My beloved SG and I were having a discussion the other day about the fact that I am always right. Well, almost always, anyway.
She asked me to tell her about a time when I was totally, incredibly, unbelievably wrong.
I immediately mentioned Las Vegas, 1985.
Long ago, when I was very much younger… “Like before I was born?” SG pipes in (my beloved gets a big kick out of pointing out the disparity in our ages)… my second spouse (aka WHN)  and I were talking about where to go on our honeymoon. Naturally, I said we should go to New York City.
Thinking I’d just set the land-speed record for settling honeymoon discussions, I was prepared to move on to the next topic. Oddly, WHN suggested we go to California instead. I was somewhat taken aback. It never occurred to me that anyone would actually want to go to California. But, being the amiable sort and wanting to start the marriage off on the right foot, I immediately agreed that San Francisco was a marvellous alternative to a real-live city like New York. WHN said she was actually thinking of something a bit further south… a grubby, gawdforsaken, horrible little town called Los Angeles.
After my laughter subsided and I realized WHN was not joking, we eventually hit on a compromise. Four days in San Francisco, followed by a few days driving down the Pacific Coast highway (stopping off at Monterey, Carmel, the Hearst Castle, Solvang, Santa Barbara, etc.) before hitting that cultural Chernobyl known as L.A.
So far, so good. Compromise. Respect. The blending of ideas both good and staggeringly ill-conceived.
Then came the bombshell.
“And we’re spending a few days in Vegas, too!”
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“We’re spending a few days in Las Vegas. It’ll be fun. You’ll love it!”
I could tell she was already picturing herself on a deck chair near the pool, sipping a mai-tai or whatever people drink while waiting for the melanoma to kick in.
“I absolutely will not love it,” I said. “In fact, I can pretty much guarantee you that I am going to hate it. I hate it already and I’ve never even been there.”
“If you’ve never been there, how do you know you’d hate it?” she parried.
“I’ve never been near a natural disaster either but I don’t have to experience one first-hand to know I’d hate it.”
“You’re being silly. You’re going to adore Vegas!”
“I am not going to do anything of the kind because I am not going anywhere near Las Vegas. The very thought of it gives me the hives. I’m not going!”
OK, so I’m at the Vegas airport with WHN waiting for our luggage. Don’t even ask why our luggage from L.A. to Las Vegas was put on a different flight than the one we took. Already, I was getting a headache and we’d only been there for 15 minutes.
And then… my face lights up. Coming down the hallway, all smiles and sweat… was James Brown and his entourage.
I gently tap WHN’s arm.
“It’s James Brown!” I whisper.
“Who?” she asks, looking around.
“James Brown. The Godfather of Soul!”
“Where?” she asks as Brown and his crew, not 10 feet in front of us, are greeted by a group from whatever casino at which he will be headlining.
Brown smiles even wider and whiter, shakes hands with the group and says, “You’re beautiful, baby. Beautiful!”
“Standing right in front of you!” I say, more urgently.
“Where?” she says, looking off to one side.
“Right there. He’s there. Right over there! James Brown. The guy walking away. Him!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she mutters, then continues to read a pamphlet about Elvis wedding chapels.
This was not an auspicious beginning to my time in Las Vegas.
Our luggage arrived. We got into a cab. It dropped us off at the now long-gone and long-since forgotten Sahara Hotel & Casino.
And from the moment I stepped out of that cab and into the night air…
I… LOVED… LAS VEGAS!!
I was 120% wrong in everything I thought about that city. WHN was absolutely right. I ADORED it. The crowds. The lights. The shows. The casino lobbies. The hustle and bustle on the streets. Watching little old ladies putting coins in slot machines. Phyllis Diller and Dianne Carroll at the MGM Grand. Les Folies Bergère. You name it, I ate it up. I couldn’t get enough of the place. The next day, I walked outside the hotel for 15 minutes and got a brutal sunburn on my neck. I could not have cared less. I was having such a good time.
To me, Las Vegas is like the whales. It’s OK to go whale watching. Once. Whales are big and gross and you might not want to get all that close to one… but it’s nice knowing that somewhere out there, there is something that goes that far, that big, that out of control.
My 3-day stint in Vegas was fabulous. I almost… ALMOST… regretted getting onto the plane to go to San Francisco.
And this is PRECISELY the point I wanted to make with my beloved SG. It’s not that I think I am right all the time. It’s not that I love being right. In actual fact, I LOVE being proven wrong. I love thinking something is going to be a disaster and it turns out great. I think it’s fantastic when I know for sure something is not going to work and miraculously, it does! Being pleasantly surprised is the highlight of my day.
I am right approximately 98.73% of the time. For example, on that same trip, I said I was going to love San Francisco (I was right), I would love travelling down the Pacific Coast highway (I was right) and checking out the towns along the way (I was right), I would love Disneyland (right again) and that I would love the Ambassador Hotel and Beverly Hills (I was right on both counts).
I also said I would loathe, detest and despise Los Angeles. And I was right.
It is just that it’s so tiring having to go through one useless exercise in futility after another just to prove to someone that I am right. And I’m never the one who wants it proven. I know I’m right. I don’t have to prove it to myself.
“You never know ’til you try!”
“What’s there to lose?”
“Just humour me, ok?”
These words chill me to the bone. Along with my all time favourite…
“Well, now you know for sure that you were right!”
I knew BEFORE that I was right!! I didn’t have to prove it to myself. I’m not happy that I was right. I am not happy that I just wasted a half hour to prove something I already knew.
I want to be wrong. But I am always right.
Well, almost always, anyway.
* (With apologies to Martin Mull)
 When I was a young rōnin, I was for several years in a relationship and living with an even younger partner. While I did not fully appreciate it at the time, we were in a common-law marriage. That person is, therefore, my ‘first spouse’ ['SA'], as opposed to the person I legally married (then legally divorced) many years later ['WHN']. My children, Exhibits One and Two, were tendered into evidence during the second marriage.
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