“Decisions, Decisions” in Main Line Today (May, 2013).

I stand in aisle nine and stare blankly at the toothbrushes. There are 97 different kinds to choose from – each one recommended by a different dental association. I pour over the options, weighing my mouth’s needs with each toothbrush’s specialty.

I find the one perfectly suited for me, but it only comes in pink. I can’t rightly go home with a pink toothbrush, so I go through the exercise again until I find the best runner up.

All told, I’ve burned 10 minutes and haven’t even made it to the toothpaste yet. And I’ll likely have a cavity at my next check-up anyhow (in which case I should have gone with pink).

The process repeats itself in aisle after aisle. 32 types of light bulbs; 21 different detergents; chocolate chips in 16 shapes, sizes, and flavors; and 1,289 pasta sauces (somewhere in this sea of red, there must be a jar that reads “marinara”).

By the time I leave the grocery store, the moon has replaced the sun and I’m left with heartburn, a headache, and an utter sense of uncertainty about the stuff I’ve just purchased.

According to the Food Marketing Institute, the average number of items carried in a supermarket is 38,718 (63 of which are likely kinds of shampoo). Not that it’s any better elsewhere: The home store has 86 kinds of caulk, the pharmacy 132 ways to get rid of a cold, and the shoe store at least 61 types of sneakers for a sundry of ambulatory activities.

Sometimes, I’ll bypass brick and mortar altogether and try my luck online. With the web’s untold options and countless opinions, I find these escapades even more fruitless – as in my recent request for a new potato peeler. Mary from Minnesota absolutely loved the peeler I was considering, while Bob from Idaho found it dull and mediocre at best. Idaho Bob should know too, but perhaps he’s just a potato peeler snob. Then again, renowned blogger Potato Patty gave it a four-spud rating on her website. “I would have given it five potatoes,” she wrote, “but it didn’t do such a hot job with apples.”

Three hours flew by, and I still had reservations about the potato peeler. Frustrated, I shut the computer down, having accomplished nothing.

Utterly paralyzed by uncertainty and frequently emasculated by choice, my daily life continues to be colored by the seemingly unending mantra: “indecisions, indecisions.”

Take away my choices ad infinitum, please!

2 Comments

  1. Ha Ha Ha Ha …….. Do you regularly do the shopping? If not, I’d imagine it could be daunting. I enjoyed this essay : ) You ARE right in that sometimes it seems there’s too many choices yet other times not quite enough. Not to mention, where the heck did the original versions go? I can’t find Post Alpha-Bits cereal any more-boo hoo and why did Duncan Hines shrink their “family size” brownie mix from 23.6 oz to 18.3 oz? Why,oh why! Marbled brownies MANDATE the larger mix otherwise you double & center is not fully cooked or you burn the sides or you MUST find just the right size pan to compensate! Life’s challenges. Shop on for we depend on it since it’s 70% of our economy-YIKES; who knew how critical “shopping” truly is!

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