I find myself in the rut of saying "hate" and "love" to cover just about everything I encounter: a new cuisine, a new piece of music, a new book. Really, do I have such a poor command of the language that I have to accept this reductivism?
I hate winter. I hate cumin (though once I began toasting the seeds, that changed to "I love cumin"). I hate my hair. I hate TV. I hate Facebook.
Is this not a ridiculous way for an elder to speak? I sound like a 15-year-old. Surely there are more thoughtful ways to express my likes and dislikes.
Okay, what? "I am not fond of . . .?" Too prissy. I could go with loathe, detest, and abhor, but these aren't a solution, since they are still bald and unnuanced statements. What are my choices here? Well, I could change the sentence structure. "Winter is not my favourite season." "My hair lacks a certain something—like hair" (is that too subtle?). Yes, it's the direct subject-verb-object that gets me stuck with hate and love.
So, start the sentence with the item, not with "I". "Rude people are anathema to me." Perhaps a bit over the top. "Rude people are, unfortunately, to be found in all walks of life. Perhaps we should root out the rude!" See how much more creative that is than "I hate rude people"?
How about: "When rude people crowd me off the sidewalk, I will trip them and then step on their necks." Does that paint the picture? Of course, this isn't true. Here's what I actually do: when I step off the sidewalk to allow a pack of rude pedestrians to hog it, as they pass I murmur in my sweetest passive-aggressive way, "You're welcome!" Not as satisfying as stepping on the neck of an entitled pedestrian, but it won't get me arrested.
What about love? Oh, I love Toronto. I love eating out. I love cooking. Try the same approach and change the structure of the sentence: "Eating out too frequently is a very pleasant way to get fat." "The city of Toronto can sometimes best be experienced by staying home, but its ravines and parks are worth a visit." "When cooking for two, I often find myself in quiet meditation while, for example, removing the transparent skins from a bowl of cooked chickpeas" (though I really prefer to call them garbanzos, which seems more Mediterranean to me).
What else do I love? Not puppy dogs. But let me not hate them, either. How about: "My sister's golden, Chester, was one of the few dogs I found bearable, primarily because he had figured out how to spit out the peas when eating a bowl of stew." Or: "It always pleases me that other people walk dogs and scoop the poop so that I don't have to."
I love it when the facilitator calls for the last minute of a writing session. More creatively: "When last minute is called, my heart beats with relief and my stomach unclenches."
So I am no longer limited to "I hate …" and "I love …". The new me will express likes and dislikes in thoughtful and nuanced sentences. Don't you just love that idea?