Right Place, Wrong Time

“I been in the right place, but it musta been the wrong time….”

Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack (Louisiana, late 20th century.)

“Why do you always have to be right?” yelled my multiply-indicted co-conspirator.

“I’m NOT always right,” I corrected him. Just to keep the record straight.

Wham! The front door in my face.

What can you do in a situation like this? Have another cup of coffee. Go to work and forget all about it. Call around, find him and talk it over. Call a friend. Seek solace in traditional wisdom. I tried this last optioin — it wasn’t as comforting as I’d hoped.

“It’s better to be right than in the majority.” (Georgia and Alabama) And also attributed to Henry David Thoreau.

That’s better, but why doesn’t it feel better?

“None but a fool is always right.” (oral tradition.: Ohio, Wisconsin).

According to anonymous badgers, cheese-heads and buckeyes, I’m on thin ice.

“Some people would rather be right than pleasant.” (Ontario). Canadians, what’s with them?

Apparently collective wisdom disapproves of know it alls. Right trip, wrong car…right ribs, wrong sauce…born in the right world, under the wrong sign. Dr. John’s got it: sometimes you’re just wrong no matter how right you are.

SUSAN DAVIS teaches at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. She is the author of Spectacular Nature.

She can be reached at sgdavis@uiuc.edu


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