"It's my favorite book ever," she finished, and I paused and looked at her solemn face. She held the book out to me; her eyes were slightly creased around the edges and her mouth was relaxed and in a straight line and I realized this girl was serious. When she said it was her favorite book ever, she really did mean that "In the whole of my existence, I have never encountered a book that I prefer more than this,". I was aware that people her age used the word often, throwing it out with a phrase, casually slipping it into a heartfelt opinion, or pausing and adding "ever" at the fin of a winding monologue, sometimes for dramatic effect and sometimes almost as an after thought, and I thought present tense to myself that one could easily discern another's personality simply by their use of the word, "ever".
And as I looked at this girl in her fashionably-worn jeans with the small hole in the thigh and the larger hole at the knee and her dark-colored purple jacket with the fluffy white faux fur nesting in the hood, looked at her black-and-white striped sweater that was clearly Quality with a capital Q and her chic leather boots with the stiff-looking edges, I looked at those boots that rose just above her ankle as the current rapidly-changing teenage style dictated, the perfect height to dig painfully into the Achilles heel tendon, and I thought to myself that this girl was Exhibit A of my new case, because I could most certainly learn quite a lot more from this one teenager who dressed as if she were trying too hard to easily be normal than I could from any Advanced Adolescent Psychology course offered from 700-1000PM three nights a week at a local community college.
I looked at this girl wearing the jeans she had donned so many times that they had been tumbled soft and white-washed in the laundry machine and I saw that the large hole in the knee had come into existence when she fell and tore a feathered gap out of the once-thick material and I looked at her dark jacket, not black as the current monde de la mode dictated, but purple because she ironically didn't want to be too much of another paste and cut-out teenage girl and honestly she really did like the fluffy hood it was so soft to touch and I saw her discomfort with her Quality with a capital Q sweater as she fidgeted with the hem and pulled it here and there and realized that although it may have been Quality with a capital Q, she didn't like how it looked on her and I thought to myself that wasn't it odd that she was insecure about the most trivial superficial properties, but did not even think twice about offering a curious stranger a look into her small, fifteen, maybe sixteen-year-old world, where a book called The Fault in Our Stars, a most pretentious title that only excellent writing could equate, ruled a reign over all other books she had previously read in the past or would read in the future, because that is what the word "ever" truly means, that no matter what, in your past, present or future, you are giving it all to this one unspecific being, and you trust that nobody or nothing will live up to the pure magnificence of it all, and this girl trusted so much in a couple hundred pages written by this John Green that she would willingly offer it to somebody she had never seen before, eagerly proclaiming a fact that I had never thought of but pondered of now.
Did I have an ever? I took an inner look at myself and wondered if I had any favorites that I could easily and immediately state would never be topped by another, but as I worked through books to movies to food to brands of kitchen knives, from parents to coffee to hair styles to siblings and onto weather, days of the week, significant others, friends; I contemplated sex positions and colors, cat and dog breeds, teachers, restaurants, feelings, voices, songs, teas, and cars, but every time I came across a favorite, I immediately thought to myself, how do I know there isn't a better one? I looked at this girl who had lived only a third as long as I and I looked at this girl who hopefully had much more than three times her years left to go and I thought that wasn't it remarkable that she was certain that she would, in all her time left, never encounter another book as supposedly fantastic as the one she held out to me now, that she believed she must have remembered adoring a story as much as this title referencing the time of Brutus and his betrayal. I thought to myself that of all the differences separating this trusting girl and strange I, this was the greatest of them all, that she believed in her existence and that I, like most others, for I surely must not be the only one, did not.
After all this thinking, she was still holding the book out to me, and when I politely smiled and demurred, she shrugged, and carefully replaced it on the display. I thanked her for her other recommendations, hefted the heavy stack of her favorites non-ever, and watched as her boots, worn at the perfect height to tuck her jeans into the cuffs, carried her away from me; a static stranger in my life, never to be seen again.