Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

How can you LIKE that?!

Let’s say you’re from Minnesota and you really dislike jalepeno peppers, or just don’t care for them as much as those folks in the Southwest.  Or, maybe you’re from Italy and you go to a Texas diner and decide that grits are just not your cup of polenta.  Chances are you’d be polite and simply chalk it up to simple differences in tastes or culture.  Right?  You wouldn’t make a face and blurt out something like, “Eww!  How can you LIKE that?  Nobody likes that!”

You wouldn’t do that.  Would you?  Huh?  Punk?!

Au contraire!  There are plenty of people who take it upon themselves to be vocal experts on what’s to be liked or not liked and they feel bizarrely compelled to pass judgment on what you happen to like.  Heaven kiss the foreheads of the design staff at Facebook for not yet altering settings (which they LOVE to do) to include a “Dislike” button.  People do enough of that in the real world, face-to-face.  Dang it.

Sitting in a theatre dressing room this past summer, one pink-cheeked boy-on-a-cracker upped the ante for me on the whole Like/Dislike discussion, as his dramatic (he is an actor, after all) knee-jerk reaction to seeing two middle-aged women eating black licorice was to rear back, spew his highly caffeinated lemon-line energy drink in horror, shouting for all to hear: “Ewwwwww!  How can you LIKE that?!  Nobody UNDER 40 likes that stuff!”

As I’ve promised throughout the years, I won’t curse in print.  But I’ve also said, repeatedly, that what falls out of my mouth I cannot be held responsible for.  In this moment I cursed, quite loudly, in this young man’s general direction.  I may or may not have even spat, a little.  Go ahead and publicly express your over-the-top disdain for the things I like, but if you’re going to base it on my age, too – then I invite you to take a ringside seat to watch my temperature rise.  Some lucky women out there glow, I irradiate.  And I will slice you in two. Distinct. Pieces.

Since then, I’ve calmed down and done a little informal survey about my beloved candy choice (I said I’ve calmed down, I said nothing about letting go).   It was surprising to me how talking about simply liking black licorice (aka liquorice) does bring out the weird and uncouth in some people.

To set the record straight, let’s first just throw red licorice out of the ring, because research will show that red licorice isn’t licorice, at all.  Candy companies started making red similarly into whips and twisted sticks like the original, which they then flavored with strawberry, cherry, raspberry, or cinnamon – but that ain’t licorice, kid.  That ain’t it.  And neither are those other colors now available flavored with apple, watermelon, blue raspberry, mango, etc.  They are imposters.  Sweet imposters created for those who don’t care for the piquant original black licorice.

When polling people about black licorice nearly everyone fell into the “love it” or “loathe it” category.  Those that love black licorice had favorite versions, such as the original form of whips and twisted sticks; Good & Plenty; Black Jack; Scottie Dogs; pick only black from a bowl of Jelly Belly’s; anise; fennel; and other varieties of the stuff (including the adult beverage versions like Sambuca, Ouzo, Absinthe, etc.).  People who love black licorice may have a preference, but for the most part are pretty happy with just about any variety they are presented with, unlike the red licorice people who are firmly divided into either Red Vines or Twizzlers teams.

What I did NOT discover while doing all this in depth research and surveying, was a division in age.  There were just some crazy strong opinions, across the board, from young to old, when it came to likes and dislikes.

Good people, listen to me when I tell you: Opinions… are like noseholes.  We all have ‘em and depending on how they’re wired, they help us sniff out our likes and dislikes.  However, if you are surrounded by the above-mentioned “experts” you may be left to second guess how you really feel about something.

A few months ago, I had a contest where I asked my readers to tell me what they LIKE (food, music, etc.) that somebody in their world really DISLIKES, robbing them of their good opinion. The many answers ranged from bleu cheese, to rainy days, to (and this one broke my heart)… laughter.  Having grown up in a world where I was surrounded by nuclear personalities (I could say “crazy” but, I hear lawyers dislike that kind of talk.  Or writing) – it was impossible to have an opinion.  It wasn’t just a matter of them not liking my youthful choices in music or clothing it was more of an epic battle of wills where I was also devalued for my opinions.  There is language one can use when expressing disagreement and phrases like “you’re crazy if you…” or “why would/how could you…” and the like are hurtful.  Combine the dialogue with tone and facial expressions that convey disgust, distrust and unjust about your opinion – you end up not feeling very good about your choices.  While I think such powerful communication should be used when addressing harmful choices that someone you love might be making, I firmly believe they have no place being used when talking about simple, mundane likes and dislikes.

William Hazlitt wrote that the mind “revolts against certain opinions, as the stomach rejects certain foods.”  How true that is.  My only wish is that rejection of another’s opinion of the things they like could be tempered with a bit of kindness and consideration.  If you don’t like something that I like, you can disagree, but it doesn’t give you the right to humiliate me for my choice.  You are, after all entitled to your opinion.  But, if you’re going to be unkind and inconsiderate about it, know that I am entitled to like the idea of possibly poking you squarely in the nose if the words, “Nobody UNDER 40…” ever fall from your pretty little lips again.  

     C

It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse races.” – Mark Twain, from The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson

We're like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.” – Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead

Ok, we've had some word that there is some bad red rope licorice circulating in the crowd. Please stay away from the red rope licorice. Do not bite any off or chew it. It could cause a dental emergency… “ – Garth of Wayne’s World

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