It doesn’t require a declaration. The smallest choices define us. I once read a demographic factoid that said if you live in Texas, bought bottled beer instead of canned and have more than two varieties of mustard in your fridge, you vote liberally. I am not sure if canned beer and mayo mean you are conservative but it got me thinking. In life there are simple gestures and preferences we do automatically that define and divide us. A simple example is keeping ketchup in the fridge or in the pantry, cold vs. room temperature. No one is willy nilly on this. They have a distinct preference. When you put in a new roll of toilet paper, does the paper hang down the back or roll over the top and hand down the front? Do you prefer a window seat or the aisle on an airplane? I like asking people these innocuous questions for a few reasons. Do they actually have a preference? If the answer I get is, “That is silly. Who cares?” Then I am conversing with a person who has gotten a few decades into adulthood and remains undecided. And in my opinion, you gotta decide. Do you like jam or jelly? If you answer, “What’s the difference?” then I know you aren’t a foodie. If you answer, “Neither, I like honey.” then that is acceptable. If I ask, “Do you like fiction or non-fiction?” and the answer is “I don’t read.” or “I prefer movies.” then I have a knowledge of you; I begin to form an opinion.
Sure, people have opinions about the big issues. They have political opinions and religious opinions. They lean one way or the other. Those kinds of opinions are actually more malleable than buying the store brand of catsup or the brand on sale. WRONG! I can’t abide a person who buys generic catsup. Even the most frugal person often has brand loyalty. I can tolerate, even accept, differences in faith, politics and cable news networks. I am not sure if I can tolerate someone who doesn’t have a favorite song from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.
It is all the small and simple selections in life that compound into the development of an identity. And like The Runaway Bride, at some point, you have to decide how you like your eggs.