Oprah Winfrey is known for many things, including her annual Christmastime list of “My Favorite Things.” So, I wondered, perhaps I can make my own list. But it will be a bit different. Where Oprah’s (it’s alright to call you Oprah, isn’t it?) list consists of 102 items with a cumulative price tag of over $14,000, mine will be a bit different. The good news is that the cost will be well under $35. The bad news is that these things will be impossible for you to buy. So let’s start.
First up is my favorite coffee cup. You all know that I loves me my morning coffee, and any great coffee experience must include the perfect cup. My prized cup came from an awards dinner put on by the Advertising Department at Ball State University, where one of my sons received some awards.
These cups (we got two of them) were big red mugs with the University’s logo on them. As much as I detest odd, mismatched glassware (perhaps owing to my youth, during which my mother – a child of the Depression – saved the glasses from jelly jars and such for our everyday use) these just looked “right” to me.
And so they were. They were big (all the better to hold more coffee, my dear) and red (don’t we all need some morning cheerfulness?). The handles were shaped perfectly and the white insides highlighted the delicious deep brown brew that filled them.
Alas, through some carelessness in handling I broke the handle on one of them, leaving me with a single big red cup. One that is pretty much without a logo any more due to the ruthless efficiency of my dishwasher. So, this cup is worth what – perhaps a buck? Maybe less. But you can’t have it, making it much more impossible to get than anything from Oprah.
There are also a couple of shirts in my closet. My Mrs. picked these up for me some time around maybe 1994. One is a striped short sleeve Duck Head buttondown and the other is a dark green long sleeve. Both of them have a fabric that is both weighty and soft. I feel good whenever I put one of them on. Did I say I feel good? This is a dramatic understatement. I feel perfected when wearing one of these shirts.
I remember laughing at my father one time, perhaps in the late ’90s, joking that his tastes seemed stuck in the 1970s. His reply took me a little aback – he said that he liked the ’70s. How, I wondered, was that possible? But here I am, a guy who simply adores two shirts from the mid ’90s. I think they are timeless. Perhaps I should block any of my children from commenting here as they might disagree.
Unfortunately, too many wearings and washings have frayed the collars and made them look – how shall I say this? Let’s go with a little too comfortable. My Mrs. is not as diplomatic about it. In fact, I am prohibited from wearing them beyond boundaries of my property. I will confess that I occasionally rebel and wear one anyway, but I must be careful or they will disappear on me. Discretion is the better part of valor, after all.
My shirts (combined) are undoubtedly worth less than my coffee cup. Some like them are, however, surely available in a secondhand shop somewhere and with enough wearing and washing you can enjoy something very similar. With the time and expense involved in duplicating them, I suspect that they will cost a bit more, but hey – nothing of value comes free.
Finally, there is my La Z Boy recliner. I remember accompanying my Dad and Stepmom to the small town furniture store where they picked it out. In 1973. It was a dark brown vinyl recliner with a high back and a wide seat. It was my father’s favorite chair for years, until he moved and it was relegated to his basement.
When I was in law school, he allowed me to take it so that I could furnish an apartment. He sternly warned me to never attempt homework in that chair, as I would surely fall asleep in it and flunk out of school. I laughed.
That chair was a bit ragged even then, with a split in the vinyl seat cushion. I took care of this by covering it with a folded throw rug, which fit the seat almost perfectly. It followed me to my first apartment and then to my first house, where I spent many happy hours on the edge of dozing in front of the television. Dad was right about the sleep-inducing properties of that chair.
Marriage resulted in my chair being moved (banished?) to the basement. Because my Mrs. has standards. It did survive a move, though still as a basement family room chair until some new ones came along. It then went to a basement storage area where it has spent way too many years as a storage platform for other possessions.
Unless I let one of the boys take it to school – it has been so long that I no longer remember. I will be optimistic and say that it is still there. There is no sense making a special trip all the way to the far corners of the basement to check. If I am wrong, I would have to erase a bunch of what I have written and find another favorite thing to tell you about.
Perhaps I am just a pack rat who hates change. Or perhaps I just find comfort in the familiar. In any case, my favorite things won’t set you back any money. Because you can’t have them.