So, last night at dinner I told the David Blaine story. Before he was doing stunts like hanging himself in a plexiglass box over the Thames and submerging himself in water for more than a week, David Blaine came first to fame by a couple television specials David Blaine: Street Magic and David Blaine: Magic Man. In these, he would walk around cities with a single cameraman and do a magic trick in front of some unprepared person-on-the-street, who would be telauthentically awestruck and amazed. This was just before the rise of "reality television" and after the decline of "Big Magic" on television (e.g., making the Statue of Liberty disappear, levitating across the Grand Canyon, pulling Luxembourg out of a member of the audience's posterior).
Anyway, one holiday I was home having dinner with a few family members, whose specific identities I will not disclose, who had earlier seen the first of these specials and were talking about it. This devolved into an argument that featured them, who had actually seen the show, versus me, who had not. (Note this means that there would have been no argument had I not persisted in my defense of my lonely stance.) The argument was over whether David Blaine was really magic, or was just some sort of "magician." Me--again without having seen the program or ever even having heard of David Blaine before this conversation--insisted repeatedly and confidently that David Blaine was not actually endowed with any sort of genuine magical powers. It was pointed out that it was pretty close-minded and haughty of me to be so insistent about this when I hadn't seen the show and they had. By the end, I felt like about as much of a jackass as I ever have in my life, because of my complete unwillingness to cede even the possibility that I might be incorrect. The most heartbreaking line in the argument was when a certain dearly loved relative of mine said: "I thought maybe he was an angel."
I do think that something about my personality was permanently forged that day in first grade when a substitute teacher showed us the wall map of the United States and asked what the largest state was. The map showed Alaska with one of those not-to-scale inset maps, and so Alaska was smaller than Texas. Everyone else in the class said, "Texas." I said, "Alaska." The substitute teacher traced the boundaries of the states on the map with her finger and said the exercise demonstrated that largest state was, in fact, Texas.