In High Fidelity, the charming men have a conversation at some point about how “it’s not what you’re like, it what you like.” Barry, by far the most brash character, actually presents a questionnaire to a girl at a bar one night and I believe it gets him slapped. Later in the book, Laura introduces Rob to some people who he genuinely likes and then asks him to look at their record collection. They have appalling taste and Rob learns his lesson. I always found it amusing and the scenes have stuck with me (never mind that I’ve read the book three times and watched the movie a couple dozen) but I always find myself coming back to the phrase.
It’s not what you’re like, it’s what you like.
It’s true that I don’t necessarily agree with it, right? I mean, I talk all the time about reading what you like and writing what you like and being who you are and to hell with it. My taste is different from that of my friends and family and husband. A perfect example is American Gods which I read a couple of years ago and loved but Mom and Hubby both thought was “alright” and “a little weird.” My husband doesn’t think that Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the best musical of all time with Tommy in close second. (He prefers Repo! The Genetic Rock Opera. Not bad but not Hedwig. He won’t even give most of my favorite books a chance. He hates the Doors and loves Dave Matthews, vice versa for me. I don’t hold those things against him. I love him even though he looked at me like I was crazy when I announced, “The guy playing Andy Warhol is Hedwig!” while we were watching HBO’s Vinyl the other day.
But sometimes I catch myself doing it.
Usually, it’s if I’m on the fence about someone. It’s like I can’t handle not knowing if I like them or not. I will grab onto some little thing that we disagree on and use it as a reason not to like them while I can still absolutely adore someone who disagrees with me about the same thing.
Why was I thinking about this? Because I recently encountered someone who hated my favorite book. They hated it a lot and pretty publically. I had recently read this person’s favorite book and it was okay but I didn’t think it measured up to the kind of praise he/she heaped on it. When it was my turn to talk about it, I pointed out the things that I really liked about it (and there were some!) and mentioned that maybe I hadn’t liked it as much as I would have if I weren’t reading it at such an inopportune time. When he/she makes references to it, I understand them and jump right in. Because I see this person a lot, I made a point to finish it and try to think highly of it.
Something about not liking my favorite book set me off a little bit though. After reading two suggestions from him/her and both of them being pretty solid 3 out of 5 stars for me, I couldn’t believe that my favorite book, the book that is most likely the reason I am a teen librarian, ended up on a DNF one star. One! Instantly, my mind shot back to something he/she said about one of my favorite movies and my blood boiled.
I had to take a step back and a deep breath. I can’t expect everyone to love my favorite book. I can’t expect everyone to like all of the same things as me. If they did, life would be intolerably boring or I wouldn’t like the things anymore. Instead, I can focus on how this makes us a great team with varied taste and different areas of expertise.