Friday, March 14, 2008

Snack Paralysis

As a child, I was willful, determined, and stubborn. As a teenager, I was loud-mouthed, feisty, outspoken, always confident in my choices. Upon reaching college, however, things changed. As impetuous teenager faded into young adulthood, a crippling indecision slowly began to creep in. So many majors to choose from! So many activities! So many cookies in the cafeteria! For the first time, I was conscious of the terrifying enormity of LIFE and RESPONSIBILITY - keywords consistently ground into my head by every adult in the vicinity. But how the hell was I supposed to know what I wanted to do with my life when I couldn't even decide what kind of bagel I wanted for breakfast?

Fortunately, I was not suffering alone - I clearly recall standing in the deli section of Ralph's with a close girlfriend, both of us suddenly consumed by near-panic over our utter inability to choose which roasted chicken (this was back in my meat-eatin' days) to buy for dinner. Our choices were Lemon Herb and Lemon Herb - flavor was unimportant. But WHICH chicken?! The one on the left was plumper, but looked pale and dry, whereas the bird on the right was thinner, yet had dark, enticing skin. We were Indiana Jones confronted by the roomful of cups, with the old man's words echoing in our head - "choose wisely." After ten solid minutes of grocery store angst and enduring strange glances from passing clerks and customers, the situation was interrupted by a phone call from a friend -

Me: "Quickly - ask him which chicken. He shall decide for us. Chicken A or Chicken B?!"

Her: "Wesley, Chicken A or B? A OR B?!?"

Wesley (sighing): "Why can't you two just decide this for yourselves? It's just a CHICKEN."

Me: (grabbing phone) "Listen buddy, we MUST leave the deli. Now choose the damn chicken!"

He complied (and likely never called again). We learned nothing.

My poor decision-making grew worse years later, when I lived right down the street from a Trader Joe's with a friend even more indecisive than I. Both meagerly employed in lackluster jobs, we would snack together, complain about our pitiful careers and wail about wasting our lives. Together we would walk to the Trader in search of junk food, only to find ourselves at an utter standstill in the chip aisle, staring slack-jawed at the endless bags. This paralysis was usually remedied by asking a very irritated shelf-stocking employee to choose for us: "Excuse me - potato or tortilla? Pita? Pretzels?!? DIP???" How could we possibly be responsible for determining what we would want to eat upon arriving home? That's five whole blocks away!

Eventually, as my professional life shaped up, my angst faded into a comfortable confidence as I embraced my newfound security. Decisions came more easily. There are exceptions, of course.
Two nights ago, Gelson's ice cream aisle:

Me: "Half Baked or Phish Food?!? Which is more delicious??"

Amused Husband: "How about these instead?" (holds up bag of dog treats)

Me: "You're not helping! And those are for dogs!"

Husband: "They are? ...chicken wafers? Ugh. But they look so delicious!"

Me: "Why the hell am I so indecisive?! I hate this! I hate MY BRAIN!!" (slams freezer door dramatically)

Yes, decisions still cripple occasionally, but lately I have a new coping mechanism. I've learned that the best solution is to glance over at my husband. That man is the easiest decision I've ever made.
Yes Indy, I've chosen wisely.

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