From motorcycles to m&m’s we love the process of choosing the one that’s the only one for us. The more choices, the better. The sheer volume of what we reject confirms our passion for what we accept. Take mixed nuts, for example. Give a cashew lover the choice of a tin of his favourite nut and a tin of mixed nuts and the chances are that he’ll chose the mix, even though it’s 60% peanuts.
What motivates us to swim through a sea of options to get what we want? Perhaps it’s an identity thing. We want to remind people who we are. “Dave loves cashews.” Or we may want to surprise them by slipping out of character and refreshing the “brand.” “Hey, Dave … when did you turn into a pecan man?” Sampling the occasional Brazil nut may remind us how much we like cashews, while popping a peanut or two expresses an inclusive and non-elitist attitude. We all want to avoid being stereotyped and a filbert tossed casually into the mouth can work wonders in restoring a sense of danger.
“Dave’s into the filberts. Who knew?”
In no time at all you’re set up to display a new side of yourself by noting the relationship between filberts and hazel nuts and the fact that “Filbert” is the name of several towns in the United States.
At a party, a bowl of mixed nuts dispels any notion of bigotry on the part of the host. It also demonstrates consideration for others and respect for their preferences, whatever and however mundane they may be. As the evening wears on and the bowl of mixed nuts reveals the pecking order, lesser nuts find their fifteen minutes of fame. Hazelnuts are suddenly cool in the company of walnuts. Finally, the last departing guest scoops the remaining peanuts to confirm a love of simple things and an abhorrence of waste.
We can learn a lot from mixed nuts.
About greed, about manners and about style, among other things. Prejudice is defined by the closet racist who wreaks genocide on the pecans. Caring and generosity are expressed by the sensitive soul who picks out the peanuts to enhance the offering for others. People of manners will suffer a walnut or two in exchange for a cashew. If there are five nuts left at the end of the evening, the kind heart will want it to be one of each.
In the end, a bowl of mixed nuts represents the human condition and our ongoing struggle to put our personal stamp on the world and at the same time fit comfortably and kindly into it.
If you buy that you’re nuts.