My favorite things in life are the most basic: a child’s laughter; the aroma of fresh basil; an undetectable tax shelter in Barbados. But often I roam my estate’s grounds on my Segway as my manservants chase after me and fan me with palm leaves and I think, If this all went away tomorrow, I’d be quite upset. I mean, really upset. Although I know I’d get over it in a few years, so long as I amassed enough wealth to buy another comparable or superior estate and hire more manservants.
That brings up another of my favorite things–my Segway. Not so much for its convenience, as it has little of that, but because I have one and you do not. Most things I have and you do not are my favorites. I do not even know you, and thus cannot say with absolute certainty that you do not have a Segway, but my guesstimate is you don’t. Therefore: favorite.
Yet, you ask, what of whiskers on kittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, or girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes? Overrated. Except for the last, provided they are attractive girls and the sashes are easily loosened. As for those suspicious-looking brown paper packages, these days, if you see something, say something–to someone else, as I have all my mail carefully screened and X-rayed and don’t have to worry about such matters, and chances are I don’t really want to talk to you, anyway. And I’m not a cat-person.
A few things I enjoy to a degree but which do not earn a place among my favorites are: eight-course meals that leave me feeling too full; earning only a few percentage points higher than market returns with my portfolio; and when Brazilian supermodels get a bit clingy.
Also, I sometimes fear a few of my favorite things have diminishing marginal returns–like the twenty-four-year-old Chivas under my private bar that tastes only negligibly smoother than the eighteen-year-old Glenlivet in my diamond-encrusted liquor cabinet, or that the eighteen-year-old Brazilian supermodel in my master bedroom is just slightly sexier than the twenty-four-year-old Swedish masseuse in my guesthouse solarium. But all I have to do to take care of all that is have a mixed Chivas-and-Glenlivet-blend threesome in my guesthouse Jacuzzi.
My favorite things have evolved over the years as I have matured from a callow youth into a heedless, rich adult, whom those around me are required to call “dashing,” “brilliant,” and “too modest for his own good.” In these situations I am an excellent listener, deeply attuned to the ideas of others in a way that might even make them feel better about themselves, for all I know–or care. But they always have to say the nice things about me first and pretty much stick with them or I’m not really into it.
And my least favorite thing? How about the fact that “favorite” has no natural antonym, so I’m forced to use the extra word “least”? If Strunk and White taught us anything, it is to be miserly with language, and and, far more important, that it’s possible to guarantee yourself permanent financial security by writing a dressed-up grammar primer.
My manservant Gibbons (the tall, flaxen-haired Gibbons, not the stouter brunet) informs me the water is running and Alizayanna and Ingrid are waiting, the latter with her Skögol-brand petrissage-enhancer. When she uses that thing in certain ways, I tend to forget about my other favorite things, including my Segway.
Teddy Wayne is the author of the novel “Kapitoil,” available from Harper Perennial.