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False dichotomies as handy personality sorters

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Once upon a time I knew a guy who used to ask people he met, "So... Rolling Stones or Beatles?" Years before the This or That tendency, it was a surprisingly effective way to learn about people.

Occasionally I add items to my mental list, and the other day when I was doing a really lot of highway driving, I realized I had developed a pretty decent temperament sorter from seemingly arbitrary but actually fairly telling preferences. Please feel encouraged to use these at parties, on dates etc.:

  • Beatles / Rolling Stones

  • James Joyce / William Faulkner

  • Carly Simon / Carole King

  • Steve McQueen / John Wayne

  • Led Zeppelin / Pink Floyd

  • Almonds / Pecans

  • Black leather / Brown leather

  • Football / Baseball

  • Cats / Dogs

  • Silver jewelry / Gold jewelry

  • Green / Blue

  • Running / Bicycling

  • Jeans / Corduroys

  • Stripes / Plaid

  • Lager / IPA

  • Whiskey / Rum

  • Swiss cheese / Cheddar cheese

  • Heidegger / Sartre

  • Italy / France

  • Flip-flops / Sneakers

  • Olives / Pickles

  • (For fans of 90s music) : Pearl Jam / Nirvana

  • (ditto) Soundgarden / Smashing Pumpkins

  • Chocolate chip cookie / Brownie

  • Sweater / Hoodie

Some slightly New York-centric ones:

  • Yankees / Mets
  • Jets / Giants
  • MoMA / Whitney (I amended this one - it used to be MoMA / Guggenheim)
  • Williamsburg / LES
  • Subway / Bus
  • Starbucks / Dunkin Donuts
  • Urban Outfitters / American Apparel (this one is for which is worse)

Useful favorites that tend to reveal fascinating things:

  • Dinosaur
  • Scientist
  • Meal to cook v. Meal to eat
  • Decade in the 20th century
  • Time period in art history
  • Song or band in high school
  • Book as a child
  • James Bond movie
  • Concept or formula in math or physics
  • Planet or star
  • Month
  • Holiday
  • Sport to play v. Sport to watch
  • Olympic event
  • Musical instrument
  • Chemical element
  • Caffeinated beverage
  • Superpower
  • Breakfast item

I guess I have a tendency to quiz people, but the key is that there are no right or wrong answers (except sometimes "Neither" in the dichotomies). If you have a particularly good sorter, I'd love to keep expanding this list.

1 Comment

1. I hate signing in to leave a comment!

2. Have you read Sex, Drugs & Coco Puffs by Chuck Klosterman? I have mixed feelings on his other stuff but I like this book of pop-culture related essays. One essay is "Twenty-three questions I ask everybody I meet in order to decide if I can REALLY love them." One of the shorter ones is:

18. You have won a prize. The prize has two options, and you can choose either, but not both. The first option is a year in Europe with a monthly stipend of $2000. The second option is ten minutes on the moon. Which option do you select?

It goes on in this vein and every time I read it I think DAMN which one is the right answer if I want Chuck to LOVE ME?


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This page contains a single entry by Vicki published on January 13, 2013 1:21 PM.

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