I’m writing this while drinking an iced coffee (I take what’s leftover in the coffeepot after my husband leaves for work, stir a teensy bit of honey into it, and stick it in the fridge for a couple hours — no fancy cold brew or pour-over happening here) and thinking about how I keep saying I’m going to make some coffee ice cubes to keep in the freezer for these drinks and yet I never do it.
Then I started trying to remember the first time I actually tried coffee. I know I had an amazing cappuccino the summer after my third year in college and I feel like I must’ve ordered a cappuccino or latte or something in Rome when I studied abroad. I don’t think it was until after college that I ordered my first latte, though — hell, it might’ve been after I moved to San Diego.
See, my parents didn’t — don’t — drink coffee. They never have. They don’t do traditional caffeinated drinks at all (though my mom drives through McDonalds every day on her way to work to get her large Diet Coke). I grew up in a very coffee-free world.
The point is, it took me a long time to come around to drinking coffee. Tea is my choice (and I didn’t even start drinking that until college), but I’ll occasionally get a latte or iced coffee with a touch of sweetener or flavored simple syrup (my latest favorite is Starbucks iced coffee with two pumps of hazelnut. Deeeelicious). Because I didn’t grow up with it, I never had a real desire for it — even as my friends in high school started drinking frappuccinos and lattes and mochas and whatever.
Right before I met my husband’s parents for the first time (having never met a boyfriend’s parents before), my dad reminded me that they may do things around the house or whatever differently than what I used to — and it wasn’t wrong, just different. And he was right — after meeting the people who are now my in-laws, I saw and understood how my husband picked up certain tendencies and habits that initially struck me as weird. This is a conversation we’ve had, for example:
Me: Why don’t you put the dish towels in the kitchen?
Him: Because they go in the linen closet.
Me: But the linen closet’s in the bedroom. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to go all the way to the bedroom when I need a rag in the kitchen.
Him: There’s no room in the kitchen. There’s room in the linen closet.
Me: We can make room.
(We have a similar disagreement with cleaning products. I like to have, say, bathroom cleaners in the bathroom where they get used, kitchen cleaners in the kitchen, and so on, while he likes to have them all in once place. I’ve conceded on this for now just because we have some space and storage issues right now.)
(Also, I should add, if not for him, we wouldn’t even have all the cleaning supplies currently taking up all the space in our entry closet. Housekeeping pro I am not.)
Here’s a (probably partial) list of all things I either don’t like or didn’t like until leaving home, simply because my parents don’t like them and therefore I was never exposed to them growing up:
- country music
- any and all Los Angeles sports teams
- coffee (and really any caffeinated products save Diet Coke, which I never liked that much, anyway) (and, ironically, both my brothers and I drink coffee and listen to country music now)
- cats (not a strong dislike as much as a very strong preference for dogs)
- small, yappy dogs
Have you started listening to the new “Question of the Day” podcast? I haven’t decided if I really like it or not yet (mainly I can’t decide if James Altucher is total douche-bro), but so far, most of the episodes are provoking a decent level of thought for me, which I guess is good. They had two recent episodes that I listened to in succession — “The Voices in Our Heads” and “American Friends vs. European Friends” — where they very quickly touched on points that (I think) eventually prompted this whole post (well, that and my iced coffee and desire for coffee ice cubes).
- In “Voices in Our Heads,” they mentioned a phenomenon where nearly every human being ever doesn’t like the sound of his or her own voice. There are a couple things that contribute to this — one, we tend to like things we find familiar, and two, due to some auditory physics or something, what we hear when we talk is different from what others hear. So when you hear a recording of yourself, it sounds different and weird and that’s jarring to us. (This is also why we tend to not like photos of ourselves — we’re used to seeing ourselves in a mirror, and when presented with a photo, we’re seeing our reflection in reverse, and due to asymmetries in our faces, it looks just different enough from what we’re used to seeing — what we’re familiar with — that our initial reaction is negative. Though, maybe with the rise of selfies, this is getting canceled out?)
- In “American Friends vs. European Friends,” they surmise that maybe Americans have more “facile” friendships because we tend to be more mobile than Europeans — we move around and leave people and make new friends as we move through life, as opposed to staying in one place and knowing and being friends with the same group of people from birth until death. How true that ever was or still is, I don’t know, but it’s certainly true for me that most people I know have moved and plan to move around a lot.
So what do I make of those long-winded points?
That it’s so easy to take our likes, dislikes, habits, and tendencies for granted. That we tend to assume we like or don’t like certain things without realizing why.
I’ll be totally honest if someone asks what foods I don’t like — “I don’t like peas because my mom hates them and I never, ever had them growing up.”
My husband called me out on my musical tastes when we started dating. “I don’t like country music.” “Have you ever listened to it?” “Well, not really…but my dad says it sucks.”
And it’s amazing that we’re able, thanks to the Internet and a generally favorable attitude towards geographic mobility, to get exposure to so many different ways of thinking and doing things.
And maybe I should be a little more conscious of where my biases and preferences come from so I can be more open to other ways of thinking and doing.