These days of COVID-19 have left me strangely more optimistic than I suspect the majority of the human population feels. My childhood was an anxiety-stricken mess, while my adolescence and young adulthood were a culmination of all my social insecurities spiraling into severe depression. Thus, having overcome most of those manchild problems and screwed my head on straight since, working mostly from home as an underpaid yet satisfied graduate researcher is a pleasant “respite.” I do not and would never downplay the economic hardship and veritable health crises endured by many this year, but if I’m being honest, I don’t mind being on the sunnier side of the community for once. I’ve been told by many people in a variety of ways how the world doesn’t care about your personal problems, no matter how persistent or severe, but the flipside of that dynamic is often forgotten. Even if only by comparison to my anxious, depressed years in the past, I am satisfied as a singular, complete person at calm amidst the world’s stormy problems. The world isn’t obligated to care about my issues, nor I its.
The longwinded months of this pandemic (November 2020 as of this writing) have left me time to further lists of popular culture phenomena I like and don’t like. Things You Like that I Don’t (TYLID) are a series of contrarian essays (re: rants) meant as a fun way to vent my everyday frustrations rooted in cultural objects so many others have recommended to me over the years. So, without further ado, here is yet another TYLID list in which I impolitely decline the following recommendations from friends, family, and strangers:
- Distance Running = Oh, how many times has a Physical Education instructor, weight-loss expert, or cross-country athlete preached the benefits, both health and recreational, of running long distances? Too many for my tastes, as I was never predisposed to the activity, physically (I never cared for cardiovascular exercises, always struggled to breathe through my nose, was never skilled at running to begin with, etc.) or emotionally (I find the activity to this day extraordinarily boring). While I noticed minor improvements in my overall cardiovascular endurance in team sports (e.g. baseball, swimming, association football, gridiron football, mixed martial arts, etc.) as a function of distance running, those fitness improvements were always much less efficient than sports-specific exercises. Even cardiovascular activities I did enjoy, like hiking, didn’t translate from jogging mile after mile throughout my small-town neighborhoods.
- Much of my impatience with running was, therefore, how little use I had for it. Consistent physical exercise is difficult for most people to embrace unless they have particular affection for a specific activity (e.g. they’re naturally good at it or have fond memories of it from childhood) or they comprehend a tangible, direct benefit from it (e.g. efficient weight-loss, rapid improvements in overall health and fitness, opportunities to socialize with peers, etc.). I never got either of those from running very, very far, though that didn’t stop other people from telling me how very, very far they ran and how often they did.
- Desserts and Sweets = In my experience, most people either have a “sweet tooth,” are predisposed to most kinds of desserts, or they’re not. Count me in the latter category. Aside from a few exceptions, most of which include ice cream, deep fried foods (e.g. donuts), or Toblerone, I don’t salivate at the thought of pies, cupcakes, cakes, muffins, chocolates, hard candies, or cookies. It’s not uncommon for me to crave something relatively sweet after eating a main course for lunch or dinner, sure, but those cravings are usually satisfied by fruit or yogurt.
- My lack of saccharine tastes was a problem when I was younger, particularly during birthdays and holidays I otherwise loved, such as Halloween or Christmas. I selectively tossed or traded much of my Trick-or-Treating loot and always requested pizza, chips, hot dogs, or barbeque (the salty, savory stuff) whenever I turned a year older. I’m not sure whether these preferences are rooted in alleged sex-specific food cravings or are particular to me, but for whatever reason, I’ve invested considerable energy refusing endless sweets, candies, and desserts people expect me to like while searching for the next fried delicacy to devour. I’m not trying to avoid a heart attack, per se, I just prefer to clog my arteries with the junk food I actually like.
- Thanksgiving Food = Here’s another dietary phenomenon I don’t understand. As far as meats are concerned, turkey is at the bottom of my list, well below pork, chicken, beef, and every kind of seafood or shellfish known to man. I’m fine with deli sliced turkey on a sandwich, but oven baked turkey by itself I often find dry, tough, and flavorless. As for side dishes made of squash, pumpkin pie, cornbread, cranberries, stuffing, green beans, etc., I’ve never found a combination that worked for me. They all taste like bland renditions of meals your school cafeteria would serve or that your Great Aunt would cook because “it’s healthy for you.”
- It’s all so, so dull, which is one of the few things I won’t miss this 2020 Thanksgiving holiday. Family? I’ll definitely miss them. The food? Hell, no