Want to know how to annoy kids of all ages? When they ask you for your favorite number or color are, tell them that you don’t have one. It completely disrupts their understanding of the world. For some, it’s as if the entire planet has shifted on its axis and the apocalypse is near.
What makes it even better is I’m not lying when I say this.
I have no favorite number, and I have no favorite color.
I tell the kids that my preferences are based upon context.
Am I playing blackjack? Then my favorite number is 21.
Am I eating hotdogs? In that case, two is just right.
Are we talking salary? If so, my favorite number is the largest one available.
It all depends on the situation.
Same goes for colors.
If I’m trying to hide in the forest at night, black is my favorite.
If I’m choosing a color for my wife to wear, white is best.
If we’re talking about my front lawn, I prefer green.
But say this to a class of elementary school students and watch many of them lose their minds. They will argue, complain, whine, plead and insist that I choose one.
A student once wrote an essay on why I should have a favorite color.
But I hold firm on my lack of preference.
NPR’s Robert Krulwich has been writing about a mathematician’s recently project to collect the favorite numbers of people from around the world.
You can participate in the survey here.
Krulwich’s latest post includes some of the more interesting reasons why participants in the survey have chosen their favorite number. As always when it comes to Krulwich, it’s worth a read.
And just for the record, there is a box that I was able to check in the survey indicating that I do not have a favorite number, so I’m not alone in my lack of preference.