As we stand on the cusp of the Iowa State – Iowa football game this Saturday, I am once again reminded of my unintentionally contrarian nature. During my childhood, I was a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes, the university that is by far the most popular in the state. When I was 17, I made the decision to attend the rival university in Ames – a decision that was based solely on academic reputation.

At that point, I also switched sports allegiances, and now cheer for Iowa State. After a 15 year losing streak to the Hawkeyes, the Cyclones have held their own in recent years, winning six of the last ten games in the series (and putting up serious fights in some of the losses), including the only regular season blemish on the record of the 2002 Hawkeyes (hah!). A win this Saturday will be great, but no longer is a win against Iowa a season defining moment – instead, it is one more entry in the W column as we march toward bowl eligibility under new coach Paul Rhoads. Quite honestly, a win against Nebraska is twice as important – because it is a conference game.

Staying on the topic of sports, my choice of baseball teams is a bit unusual as well. I’m an Iowa native. The state doesn’t have a major league team, but the Cubs have a substantial following in the state. The Cardinals and White Sox also have large fan bases, followed by a smattering of Twins and Royals fans. The Rockies have, by my count, five fans in the entire state.

For that matter, my sports preferences are also a bit atypical. In an era where the NFL and NASCAR reign supreme, my favorite sports are baseball, luge, and track. At one point, I followed the NBA, mostly because of a player with the initials MJ who wore the numbers 2 and 3 on his jersey. Yep – the “other” MJ – #32, Magic Johnson.

It’s probably a good thing that I wasn’t a fan of Jordan. Otherwise, it might be difficult to explain why I dislike Nikes, and swear by Adidas shoes instead.

My contrarian instincts follow me outside the world of sports as well. In a world dominated by Windows, I have used Apple computers for a quarter century. I happily use a wide variety of web browsers – as long as they are not produced by Microsoft.

Surely food is a sacred area? Nope. I am one of seven people in the entire country who do not consider McDonald’s fries to be “the greatest thing since sliced bread”. I prefer Hardees curly fries, or even Burger King onion rings. In fact, my choice of Hardees as my favorite burger joint is a bit unusual. Of course, until it left town a few years ago, B-Bops was at the top of my list.

It doesn’t get any less contrarian if I eat at home. While I often drink Pepsi due to availability, my favorite soft drink is RC. If I’m going to have a frozen pizza, I will eschew popular brands such as Tombstone and Red Baron for my favorite – Totino’s. Not only is Totino’s one of the few brands that doesn’t trigger my acid reflux, but it has a nice crispy crust – because, of course, I dislike thick crust.

But at least I’m conventional in my choice of salty snacks. Pringles are pretty popular.

Of course, I push aside the regular Pringles in favor of the reduced fat. Is this a health-based decision? Of course not. I actually prefer the flavor …

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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