On being … a favourite?

By Ingrid Sapona

Some friends from out-of-town recently visited. In advance of their trip, we exchanged emails about going out for dinner. They asked me to pick a restaurant. I suggested a couple places I thought they might be interested in trying. Turns out they had been to them and didn’t seem that interested in going back to either.

I honestly didn’t care one way or the other, so I said whatever they had in mind would be fine. They insisted that wasn’t the point – they wanted to take me out to dinner wherever I wanted. I said that was a gracious offer, but I still wanted their input because choosing a place can be hard. They then said, “Let’s just go to your favourite restaurant!” Sweet idea, I know – but, as I told them, I don’t have a favourite restaurant. I don’t think they believed me.

The truth is, I always feel uncomfortable when asked about my favourites because I don’t have a favourite anything. I know it sounds odd, but it’s true. That’s not to say I don’t like – or even love – things. There are plenty of things I have no problem saying I really like. But, I’ve never been able to choose favourites. What I don’t know is whether that makes me odd. Does everyone have a favourite this or that?

Here’s one that comes up a lot, for example: favourite movie. I don’t have one. I think my family would say that my favourite movie is White Christmas – and I do love that it. But, I also love It’s a Wonderful Life. I could never choose one over the other, which I’d have to do to declare one of them my favourite. Another one that comes up fairly often in casual conversation is favourite food. Nuts and cheese certainly are at the top of my list, but I can’t honestly say I favour one over the other.

So, when the subject of favourites comes up, rather than go into a long song and dance about not having favourites, my normal response is to re-frame the question. For example, I often provide a short list – say three to five “favourites”. Or I may re-frame it as things I’d really miss – or wouldn’t want to live without (cheese and nuts are prime examples of that). Another re-frame I’ve used is places or things I’d recommend without hesitation. That one’s helpful for things like recipes I like, or places I’ve visited.

While I’ve never run across anyone who’s objected to my reframed answers, I’m always aware that those responses – while true – are really my way of skirting the issue of not being able to choose a favourite. What does that say about me? I don’t know…

I’ve considered it from a number of different angles: Does it reflect some deep-seated fear of commitment? (After all, the idea of choosing one to the exclusion of others is really what commitment’s all about.) Does it mean that I’m so repressed that I don’t enjoy things as much as others? Am I afraid to choose a favourite because I’d be heartbroken if I were never able to see, eat, partake, or experience the thrill of that favourite whatever again?

Is it this complicated for everyone? I’m guessing not, given how easily some people talk about their favourite (fill in the blank). What about you? Can you easily reel off your favourites? If so, what’s your secret?

About that dinner with my friends from out-of-town… On the day they were coming up, I still hadn’t made a decision. So, when I ran into someone from my condo, I blurted out, “Do you have a favourite restaurant in this neighborhood?” (I know absolutely nothing about how culinarily discerning he might be, but what the hell.) He cocked his head and thought for a minute and said, “Yeah – there are a couple places we like”. He named two places, and I chose one. It ended up being terrific – very good food and reasonable (for Toronto). Indeed, given that it’s a place I’d definitely go back to and a place I’d recommend without hesitation, it’s about as close as I come to a favourite.

© 2019 Ingrid Sapona


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