Tag Archives: question

What’s your favorite?

I don’t like it when I get confronted with questions about favorites. Like, “What’s your favorite food?” or “What’s your favorite movie?” Because I have no idea what my favorite anything is. One time I went on this job interview, and the guy handed me a photocopied list of questions, mostly about my relevant experience. But at the bottom, there were all of these questions, stuff like, “What’s your favorite song? What’s your favorite restaurant? Who’s your favorite writer?”


And I sat there and stared at that piece of paper for way too long. Eventually the man came back in the room, and I had to tell him something, explain why I hadn’t finished those last several questions. “Listen sir,” I tried making my case, “These questions about favorites, it’s not that I don’t enjoy things like songs and writers, but there are lot of songs and restaurants and writers in the world, and to make me choose one, it’s like, jeez, I can’t choose just one. And if I had to, I can almost guarantee that that one answer is going to be different if you ask me two weeks from now.”

This guy nodded along, but I could tell it was over. I could all but read his mind, him, standing up over that desk where I was seated, he must have been thinking, come on dude, just write something down, I don’t care about any of this stuff. Do you think I came up with these questions? Do you think I’m really going to go over any of that nonsense? I mean, unless you wrote down “Raining Blood” by Slayer, whatever, I really, truly don’t care. And you’re not getting this job, because this is one of the most annoying interviews I’ve ever given in my life.

I mean, I can’t read minds, so I don’t know for sure if that’s exactly what he was thinking, but I never heard from them again, even though he definitely said, “Thanks, we’ll be in touch,” after he assured me for the third time that it wasn’t a big deal that I’d left the last few questions blank.

What’s the point of a question like that? Sure, people want to get to know you, maybe in an interview setting it could be seen as something to lighten the mood, maybe lower your defenses somewhat. But all questions like that do, to me anyway, are to put me on the spot. It’s like, “Hi. Nice to meet you. Quick, tell me your favorite band.”

And it sets off a thought process in my head that’s too much for me to deal with in real time. My favorite band? Like, if I could only listen to one band for the rest of my life, is that the band that you want to hear? Because even if I were able to narrow down my top three favorite bands, whatever that even means, I promise you that if I were forced to listen to only those three bands, I’d get really sick of them in almost no time at all.

Like, did you ever go to school with one of those kids that ate the same exact packed lunch every day? Doesn’t that get old? You really don’t mind the taste of baloney and cheese over and over and over again?

There’s too much, all right, there are too many good bands for me to pick a favorite band. If you ask me who may favorite author is, I have no idea what to tell you, because I’ve read tons of different books, and they all say different things to me at different times. And the favorite restaurant question, come on, what are you trying to take me out to lunch? Because after I eat something like four or five times, that’s it, I won’t crave it for another year or two.

Did anybody see Guardians of the Galaxy? I loved it. I thought it was such a cool movie. But one thing kept bugging me. He’s listening to this cassette mix-tape that his mom made him, and that’s cool, I get it. But he’s dancing around to the songs, like he’s really into them every time he hits the play button. You expect me to believe that a human being is able to listen to the same twelve songs for twenty years without getting sick of them? Don’t get me wrong, it was a great soundtrack, and it fit the movie nicely. I even left the theater with a bunch of those tunes playing on repeat in my head. But after like three or four days, that was enough, how many times can you listen to “Come and Get Your Love?”

Come and get your love, come and get your love, come and get your love now.

Come and get your love, come and get your love, come and get your love now.

Come and get your love, come and get your love, come and get your love now.

Over and over and over again. No way. I’m not buying it.

Can you see the moon during the day?

In high school, I worked at a local restaurant on Long Island. I remember one day I was taking this table, two older couples, one of the men called me over and said something like, “Son,” because all old people do stuff like that, call any young person son, he was like, “Son, are you a good student? Do you take any science classes?”


And I’m so full of it, and I know that I’m full of it, it’s something that I’m constantly trying to work on, not acting like I know everything. But this was something like fifteen years ago, I wasn’t working on anything back then, so I shot back an immediate, “Of course I take science classes, and yes, I’m a great student.”

So this guy said, “Great, maybe you could help settle an argument we’re having. How come you can’t see the moon during the day?” And I don’t know, I couldn’t think of anything, nothing close to an answer anyway, but I wanted my response to be instantaneous, like not only am I a good student, but I’m hyper-intelligent, like I don’t even need to fully listen to your question before I start rattling off some ridiculous scientific-sounding explanation.

And that’s exactly what I did, I made up some nonsense about particles in the air being refracted by sunlight, like that’s why we can’t see the stars either, because everything’s blue, and I just kept going on and on, talking and talking for what had to have been two solid minutes. I stopped, I looked around at these four adults making eye contact with me, I took a breath and thought, OK, that sounded like a knowledgeable answer, maybe they bought it.

“Great, thanks,” the man said and went back to his chef salad or whatever it was he was eating. And I walked away, sort of confused by my own rambling answer, but weirdly self-satisfied, like, OK, even if I didn’t exactly know what I was talking about there, at least I played the role of the smart kid, at least I looked like I knew what I was talking about.

But then like a week later this sudden realization flooded my brain: of course you can see the moon during the day. It’s there all the time, you’ll be staring at the blue sky and you’ll notice the moon, right there. Jesus, what the hell was all of that baloney about particles and refraction? Why couldn’t this thought have been available when I needed it, at the table? I could have casually answered, “What are you talking about? You can see the moon during the day. More iced tea?”

And this weird interaction, it’s haunted me ever since. Not a month goes by where I don’t picture myself as this wannabe know-it-all, a guy who, when presented with a problem, with a question that I’m not prepared to answer, instead of being humble, instead of looking upon this as an opportunity to be teachable, to learn something new, I’d rather just throw a string of words together to keep alive the illusion that I’m smarter than everybody else.

A few years ago I was reading this book about space, about astrophysics dumbed down for the average non-scientist. And this point came up, the author actually stated that the moon is visible during the day just as much as it is visible at night. Instantly I was transported back to that day at the restaurant, me, a pimply-faced fifteen-year-old giving a fake science lecture to a group of four adults.

What was that guy’s angle? I always think about this too. Why get me involved? Was he having a similar moment of confusion, suddenly unable to visualize the white moon in the blue sky? I don’t think so, because even if he was blanking out, surely someone else at the table could’ve corrected him, no, you actually can see the moon during the day.

What I’ve put together in the years since is this group of four, sitting around a table lamenting the poor state of modern education. Maybe he was a scientist, or a science teacher, and in between bites of ham and hardboiled egg, he’s railing at the youth of America, “They don’t know anything, not about math, not about science,” and maybe one of the women tried to mount a defense on our behalf, “Oh Roger,” I’m imagining his name is Roger now, “Kids aren’t as bad as you’re making them out to be.”

And he was like, “Oh yeah?” before sticking his hand in the air to call me over. “Hey son, let me ask you a question about science,” and then I stood there and went, “Blah, blah, blah,” over and over again, a steady stream of absolute garbage pouring out of my mouth, and then he sends me on my way, “Great, thanks a lot.”

And as soon as I’m out of earshot, he says to the rest of the group, “You see? That kid was an idiot, a total moron!” and everyone else would have had no choice but to shrug in agreement, because yeah, that was a pretty dumb answer on my part.

So whenever I get presented with a question in life, something that I’m not sure of, I try really hard to keep that experience on hand, ready to play back in my head before I turn the old chatterbox on. Because man, I still cringe, what a dumb answer. Of course you see the moon during the day. Just stop for a second and think.