My Favorite Thing

My Favorite Thing

A Story by Malia Simon

A brief introspection


Anything can be your favorite thing if you live a liberated enough life. Nobody does, though, and we’re usually loyal to the things that are our favorites, relating to them more as identities than preferences as time moves along. When I was younger I collected figurine horses, and it wasn’t until my thirteenth Christmas that I finally allowed myself to entertain the thought that I really didn’t want any more horses.

When you’re waiting on a ten PM flight at Gate B80 in Denver, anything can be your favorite thing. Mine is the guy sitting across from me with the thick eyebrows and the buzz cut, the one who keeps shifting in his seat thinking to himself that, yeah, he’s probably just paranoid for suspecting that I’m typing something about him.

When I first glanced at him I thought to myself that he had very proportionate (normal?) features. But now that my eyes are getting to know him I realize that it was a simple and even neglectful thought. His teeth are quite jagged in fact and his ears pointed, the left slightly more to the east and the right to the west. He moves in a curiously slow manner and I don’t believe this to be because it’s so late in the day; his eyes move in the same near reflexive way as any, darting up from his iPod to glance at people coming in tired clusters down the escalators. But when he goes to scratch his face or roll up his sleeves, his fingers curl in an almost languid motion. I think that maybe he has an intimacy with his own body that other people don’t, because he doesn’t move in a harsh way that might disturb it. At the same time, perhaps he is especially out of touch with himself because he doesn’t trust his own skin to survive a mere damn itch.

A moment ago I watched him drop an M&M wrapper on the carpeted ground below his seat. He looked around with a subtle smile in spite of himself as if to say, “There I go again”, and then lazily dragged a long arm down below him to pick it up. Only his curled fingers just nudged the wrapper farther beneath the seat behind him instead of capturing it. He looked around again to see if anyone was still watching his toils unfold. He was mainly looking to see if he should still pretend that he ever really cared about picking up the wrapper. At that point, the wrapper was so far under his seat that his arm probably couldn’t have reached it if he tried, so he sat back, but not without a hefty amount of eye-rolling and silent laughing at this unforeseeable situation that so outrageously inhibited him in his usual trash-picking-up ways.

But all of that is not why he’s my favorite thing. In fact, it has nothing to do with him at all. Nothing to do with him, and everything to do with me. He’s my favorite thing because people-watching is an exceptionally self-centered thing to do, and I’m an exceptionally self-centered person. People-watching is in fact the surest way to turn inward of them all-- we don’t watch people because we want to experience the colorful multiplicity of quirks and mannerisms among us. We watch people because we want to think things about them and then listen reverently to our own thoughts about them and then listen to our thoughts some more. It’s the narcissist’s perfect scheme for finding a way to turn everybody else into some rendering of himself.

But then, isn’t that what a favorite thing is? Calling on a favorite thing is calling on the natural and infantile propensity to possess. Just as I couldn’t only have one horse figurine, we don’t just do our favorite thing once and then release it. We hold it in close captivity until we’ve sucked the marrow out. That’s the problem: it’s that at some inevitable point we start to harbor a growing distaste for the thing simply because we’ve begun to see too much of ourselves injected into something that used to appeal to us when it was just outside of us.

If you people-watch you can hear your own voice as that of God. If you choose favorites you can see your hands as his. God too eventually punishes his own stupid creations; life as we know it follows the most basic premise that hatred is the second evolutionary stage of religious love. And, above all else, we’re confined to the nature of overindulgence. No being knows better how to drink a juice sour. Why is one sip never enough?

No more of that. I don’t want favorites.  You shouldn’t be nostalgic when you throw away a large garbage bag full of glass horses. And you should let the strange man get on his flight.

© 2018 Malia Simon

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Added on August 14, 2018
Last Updated on September 4, 2018
Tags: confessional, sarcastic, cynical, dark, short story, essay, philosophy


Malia Simon
Malia Simon

New York , NY

Novelist, author of Both Hands for Me. Creative writing major at Columbia University. more..