Daily Handbasket: Why Must We Have Favorites?!

 

Photo by iStock

Decisions, decisions. Favorites feel impossible.

 

“I don’t have a favorite color, because I’m not a four-year-old.” Where did I hear that? A film, perhaps? As I recall, the delivery was pretty snarky, but it still made a huge impression on me. I felt so…liberated.

Why do we have to have favorite things? Maybe someone first asked that question as a conversation starter, and a thousand Kindergarten teachers and meme-quiz writers picked it up. I sometimes will ask about favorite things when I interview someone, but it’s likely to be very specific question like, “If you could have only one flavor of ice cream for your last meal, what would it be?” And maybe the answer isn’t really their favorite flavor, but a flavor like, say, Chunky Fish Head Ice Cream (language alert on the jump), that they’ve always wanted to try, and only have that one last chance.

Having to pick something as a favorite is loaded with pressure. I feel like if I label something as a favorite, I’m stuck with it forever. Sweet Tarts used to be my favorite candy. When I was twelve. But now the idea of its degree of tartness makes my tongue curl. I’ve had a half dozen favorite candies since then–nearly all of them chocolate. Do Sweet Tarts hate me now that they’re no longer my favorite? Also, don’t tell chocolate that I might actually leave it for a properly made, melty-not-chewy praline.

Favorite food? Argh. Sometimes sushi. Sometimes fried chicken. Sometimes pizza. Sometimes I can’t get enough smoked salmon wrapped around herbed cream cheese. But what about bacon?! Bacon makes me very happy. But does it make me happier than pizza? Or a perfectly ripe, drippy peach? I think I’m getting dizzy thinking about ALL THE FOOD.

Favorite book? Don’t get me started. Yes, Jane Eyre is the book of my heart. Then a decade or so later I read Rebecca.What about Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian? It’s stunning and terrifying and brilliant and I have read it many times. But not as many times as Jane Eyre, because I was twelve when I started reading it. Does that make Jane Eyre my favorite?

Let’s get back to the favorite color thing. I’m not going to mention here what color I fill in when I’m answering security questions because I don’t want bad people trying to hack my savings account. It’s a color that I always said was my favorite when I was a child, and just stuck with it. For a while, in my twenties, my answer was pale lavender. People gave me funny looks, because whose favorite color is an indefinable shade of lavender? Then again, if someone says green, do they mean grass green, lime green, pistachio, neon green, celadon, forest green, hunter green? There are a lot of greens.

Then there’s the endearing social phrase: You’re my favorite. It’s a minefield, but, still I’ve used it. If I tell someone on Twitter that they’re my favorite because they’ve taken a picture of one of my books on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, I definitely mean it! They are my favorite fan in the whole world! (Actually, the fact that I have fans at all still freaks me out. THEY ARE ALL MY FAVORITES!) But I worry. Will they think that they are now my favorite person…forever? Does it sound like I’m saying that? My husband is truly my favorite person. Or is it my kids–collectively, because I honestly wouldn’t have a favorite child. I always tell my daughter that she’s my favorite daughter because it’s safe. She’s my only daughter. My only son is my favorite son.

I propose that we stop asking people what their favorite anything is right this minute. For our sanity. Well, mine anyway.

Maybe it’s just me who has a problem with favorites? Do you have definite favorites? Forever favorites? What are they?

 

June 11th Words
Journal:  56 words
Long fiction: 441 words
Short fiction: 0 words
Non-fiction: 0 words
Blogging: 661 words
Exercise: 1 mile with dogs. Lots of cleaning and gardening today.

6 thoughts on “Daily Handbasket: Why Must We Have Favorites?!”

  1. Crista says:

    I just had a conversation with son about this two nights ago. I was asking him a series of rapid fire favorites and he had no answers. I left him with the phrase “it’s good to have favorites.” I guess I feel that way because I remember feeling like him before I really KNEW myself. The fun (for me) has been in the unfolding! I love being 40+ now and knowing my preferences. Young me was so stressed picking out her wedding registry. I didn’t know what I liked. I went with a Tuscan theme of dishes and such and just rid myself of the last of them. I love it when those closest to me know what I prefer. The Tori Amos song about knowing/not knowing how she takes her tea always comes to mind. For those I have lost…knowing their favorites makes me smile. Exact reason I have lots of birds around the house (Mom’s favorite [favorite favorite = robin]) A personal pet peeve …knowing someone forever and NOT knowing what they like. Drat! Do you even them? I am currently in the process of getting rid of all the extras in the house and only keeping the favorites. Hard but doable! Foods and colors and books and songs…forget it. Too much deliciousness. Favorite animal of my eight year old self=Panda Bear.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      What a beautiful perspective, Crista. I do remember that time before I felt like I could claim any solid opinions of my own. (I was in my thirties, really, before I got it somewhat together.) You are such a thoughtful person–and I love how you write about remembering your lost loved ones. Decluttering down to the things that bring joy *is* such a challenge. Sending you big, encouraging hugs. Thanks for coming by. 💜

  2. skyecaitlin says:

    Choosing a ‘favorite’ anything is not something I’ve ever considered, but this was interesting because I do love fried chicken, but I never ate sushi, and I love both Jane Eyre and Rebecca, but also throw in Wuthering Heights and most books by Sidney Sheldon. I do love pale, muted colours, too, such as aqua, pale lavender, and turquoise and teal.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      I will not try to convince you to try sushi, Skye, even though I enjoy it. Even I sometimes have second thoughts about raw fish. Have we talked about Sidney Sheldon? I adored his books when I was a teenager–and found myself disappointed that the real world was not so…dramatic. You’ve made me want to revisit them. Go, pale lavender!

      1. skyecaitlin says:

        I think it’s a lovely shade, and the only reason I haven’t tried sushi is because I have an allergy to MSG, soy, shell fish and peanut oil, but they prepare sushi at Whole Foods, and they would answer my questions if I asked. Sidney Sheldon —WOW, and some Harold Robbins, and a book entitled Celebrity by Thomas Thompson—all very wonderful. I have been revisiting old books from my past—-a perfect writer is Elisabeth Ogilvie ( Image of a Lover and Where the Lost Aprils Are—and definitely not romantic novels, either)..

Leave a Reply