“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.