Sunday, February 22, 2009

Serendipitous

Kids have lots of favorites.  Favorite blankets, stuffed animals and toys.  Later, they have favorite foods, teachers and friends.  Even on into college, students can name a favorite professor, a favorite spring break destination, and let's be honest, a favorite beverage.

I think I'm too old for favorites.  I'm stumped when the question pops up on Facebook.  There's no way I could name a "favorite" movie or song.  True, a routine channel scan comes to a dead halt if Field of Dreams or Sleepless in Seattle or When Harry Met Sally pops up on the screen.  And An Affair to Remember?  I'll only peel my eyes from the screen to locate the Kleenex.  Still, are any of these "favorites"?  I don't think so.  I'm also a sucker for Animal House, Major League, and to my children's unceasing incomprehension, The Princess Bride.  But to name one movie I couldn't live without?  Can't do it.

A favorite color?  No way.  Not now, anyhow.  When I was three, though, I laid claim to the color "blue" (same as my September birthstone, the sapphire).  My best friend, Nancy, had an August birthday.  That meant she was stuck with green (peridot).  Too bad for her.  Over the next 10 years or so, she'd occasionally suggest swapping colors, but I was resolute:  blue belonged to me.  There was no way I was giving up blue.  Do you remember the jarring lime greens of the late 60s and the murky avocado greens of the 70s?  Huh uh.  Blue was mine.  What happened to those strong feelings of ownership?  Now, my only response to the "favorite color" question  posed by my 11-year-old daughter is, "it depends."  (My bedroom, notably, is now painted green.)

Despite accusations to the contrary, I don't even have a favorite child.  OK, stop.   I know no one is supposed to name one child as superior, but as any mom can tell you, each kid, by turns, falls in and out of favor.  I'd feel guilty, but I think it's mutual.  I know full well when I descend below my kids' "favorite" line.  I just hope it's not so apparent in the reverse.

In practically any other circumstance, I simply can't commit to a favorite.  It limits my options.  It puts me in a corner.  And perversely, I don't want to risk alienating friends by naming a favorite (candidate, ice cream flavor, restaurant) with which they don't agree.

The exception (and you knew there'd be one) is that I do have a favorite word:  serendipity.  I love the way it sounds. -- sleek and smooth at the beginning, and then, dippy and giggly at the end.

And who can find fault with the definition?  Serendipity, noun, 1. delightful coincidence.  "Delightful?"  Are you kidding?  How can you deny any word that includes "delightful" as part of its definition?  Or how about this definition -- "an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident"?  Something great happens without making any effort?  Count me in!

Then there's the actual usage of the word.  While uncommon, it's not a show-off word, like "eponymous" or "erudite."  And it's not goofy, like "bamboozle" or "bodacious."  Serendipity is a word you can actually use (but not too often, as it is fairly memorable).

Here in Charlotte, there's even a "Serendipity Lane."  Can you imagine?  If I lived there, I'd beam every time I pulled into the driveway!  Talk about a mood-setter!

Maybe what draws me to "serendipity" is the sheer possibility.  The possibility of something surprising just around the corner.  The chance that I'll hear a funny joke.  The potential of re-connecting with a long lost friend.  The prospect for unexpected joy.

So when asked which ice cream I like the best, I may fumble.  Sublime, but hard-to-find Cinnamon?  Readily available New York Fudge Super Chunk?  Sweet, savory and lucscious Butter Pecan?

Tell you what.  How about you pick?  And I'll just be happy -- delightfully and coincidentally so!
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