I developed a simple but effective trick a few years back when talking to other parents at a class reunion. When they start to tell me about their children they usually gussy them up a bit. “Henry just made the varsity blah blah blah” or “Chloe’s gymnastics team just won the regionals” or “I can’t get Leilani off of Garage Band!” It’s harmless. We all do it to some extent.
I say “great!” I nod my head. Great. That’s what you think they are. Or that’s what you want me to think that they are. But who are they really?
I have a simple question.
“Who are her five favorite characters?” I ask.
“Her five favorite characters. Fictional characters, preferably. But if you say ‘well she can’t stop watching Drew Carey on The Price is Right’ I’ll accept it. Just list her five favorite characters.”
And then you usually get a better picture of the person.. It’s kind of interesting what your favorite five says about you.
For example: If she’s 7 years old and her five favorite characters are all in a series of Nicki Minaj videos, that may say something about the type of environment their house is. If she says Elsa, Anna, Phineas, Ferb and Skye from Paw Patrol, she’s probably going to be alright. It’s not a fool proof method, but it can give you some insight into someone’s personality.
I was originally just going to pop my kids’ favorite five up on Pajiba and say “rate my parenting!” but this is waaaaaay too much fun of an exercise to waste on the children. As my dad always used to say “you don’t throw pearls to the pigs,” which is how a man from the hardscrabble depression-era streets of Roxbury Massachusetts says “you don’t cast pearls before swine.”
Is this your favorite character? What does that say about you?
So, a few ground rules:
1.Your five favorite characters. Fictional characters. I like Ann Richards too. This isn’t that.
2. You will find that five will feel impossible. In a tiebreaker, weigh the RIGHT NOW over the ALL TIME. For example, Gandalf was nudged out of my favorite five because I just finished reading a series of books and that character is more on my mind than Gandalf is right NOW. Gandalf also had to endure the indecency of the recent Hobbit movies and that helped him diminish and move into the west of my list. NOW should weigh in.
3. Now is not the only factor though, otherwise Imperator Furiosa would be on every list.
4. Books, TV, commercials, video games, anything is okay. Is it a Pokemon character? Great! Is it that model in the Sunglass Hut ad that exudes the kind of demure confidence you wish you had? Fine! No points for just plain randomness. Like uhhhh “Tony the Tiger!” Unless he speaks to you on a molecular level, he’s out.
5. Honesty is job 1. If you wish it was Ned Stark but it’s Littlefinger, say Littlefinger. If you wish it was Don Draper but it’s Pete Campbell, say Pete Campbell.
6. “Favorite” can mean anything. That’s what makes this interesting. They can be characters you aspire to. They can be characters you relate to. They can be characters that are broken the way you are or have emotional residue that matches yours. How you define favorite is part of what’s telling.
7. Try to turn off your hard-earned Pajiba filter. “Gee I want to say C.J. Parker from Baywatch, but this is Pajiba, sooooo I guess I’ll say Vanya from The Brothers Karamazov.” In the words of Robin Williams in Aladdin “beeeeeee yourself.”
8. Star the unmovables. If we do this in 2020 which characters will still be there no matter what? That’s your foundation. Star ‘em up!
9. They don’t have to be ranked in any order. All five are considered equal. With any luck we’ll all find our Pajiba soulmates!
Without further ado, my favorite five:
And for good measure, and to wash the duplicitous taint from your mouth, (DUPLICITOUS TAINT! New band name! I call it!) Lady Castleton’s favorite five:
Who are yours?