My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

The Underappreciated What-Ifs of Life

I do not like hard candy. I've been aware of this fact for a long time now, but it's at the forefront of my mind after consuming Ricola cough drops for the past few days to assauge my sore throat.

Hard candy's just not worth the effort. You have to tease the flavour out of it, sucking at it as the surface slowly melts away onto your tongue. And if you suck too vigorously, as I'm wont to do, you can sometimes swallow the candy. While the danger of choking is hopefully minimal, the experience is seldom pleasant. I was reminded of this fact today when my mouth unilaterally decided to swallow a cough drop.

This got me wondering, what if I did like hard candy? Which aspects of my personality would need to change in order to result in me liking hard candy instead of disliking it? I suspect that my preference is some sort of hard-coded anti-choking prejudice buried deep within my genome, or perhaps the irrational result of a quirky neuron flickering on and off within the recesses of my brain. In any event, the fact remains that my dislike of hard candy is a subconscious response rather than a conscious choice--I can choose to eat hard candy, but I can't choose to like it. If I did like it, then, I would be a different person.

We define ourselves daily by countless arbitrary preferences, justifications of taste as opposed to morality or reason. These are essentially meaningless in the grand cosmic scheme.((My like or dislike of hard candy will not cause a land war in Asia, hopefully.)) On a personal level, however, these preferences are the nuances that shape us into individuals.

So I was very interested to consider, just for a few minutes, the ramifications of this totally arbitrary preference. We all love to entertain the major "what ifs" in our lives--what if we were more adventurous rather than cautious, what if we were less enthusiastic and more laid back, what if we had won that championship, etc. In comparison, the minor "what ifs" don't seem so interesting. Yet they are just as much a part of who you are as those major attributes.

And to all you people out there who like your candy hard, I say this: you're crazy. Soft candy is soooo much better. Fuzzy peaches for the win.

P.S. I tried using Google's image search on the phrase "hard candy soft candy smackdown" to locate a suitably-hilarious cartoon of a Jolly Rancher fighting a Gummi Bear. Suffice it to say, the resulting photos were not what I had expected. It appears that very few people share my burning desire to see Jolly Ranchers and Gummi Bears go mano a mano.