My name is Jess, and I just couldn’t stand Titanic. It’s important that I admit this aloud, for it may help other misguided souls who are — please excuse the expression — in the same boat.

It all started at an advance press screening of the 16-hour (or whatever) film. Upon emerging from the great disaster, I was unashamed of my opinion. ”Puh-leeeze!” I declared to anyone willing to listen. ”Great special effects in the second half, but you can skip the first completely. I’ve seen more moving love stories on Jerry Springer!” Then came the awestruck reviews and the staggering ticket sales, due in part to my friends, family members, and colleagues who came out raving with tears in their eyes and who, when I suggested that the $200 million would’ve been better spent on a Postman sequel, glared as if I had insulted them personally or said something really mean about Mary Tyler Moore.

I guess that for audiences overfed with scrappy independent films and Seinfeldian cynicism, Titanic quenches a deep thirst for old-fashioned spectacle and sentiment. So now when Titanic comes up, instead of contradicting my friends or risking their contempt by saying Leonardo DiCaprio can’t be called ”sexy” until he goes through puberty, I hold my tongue and change the subject: ”Ya know what else is great?” I say desperately. ”I think they got rid of all those infected Hong Kong chickens.”

Still, when word got around the office that I was going public with my, uh, problem in print, I realized that I was not alone. ”The ship looked fake!” whispered one colleague. ”Thank you!” E-mailed another. Thus empowered, I’m starting an anonymous Titanic support group with our own 12 steps toward more self-esteem. No. 1: We admit we are powerless over our good taste in movies. No. 2: We believe that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck can restore us to sanity…. Though if Titanic wins the Best Picture Oscar, I plan to fall off the wagon and land deep in the drink.