I absolutely long for the days when we had fewer options about everything. In today’s world, we are literally drowning in choices and I seriously think it’s affecting our mental health. I know it’s affecting mine.
I can’t think anymore.
When we were kids, our mom would take us to Woolworth’s to sit on the diner stools and twirl around before she shopped. She’d order coffee. That’s all she had to say. It would arrive. We were given the choice of a chocolate, vanilla or strawberry milkshake. My grandmother would decide between a slice of apple, cherry or lemon meringue pie.
THAT WAS IT!
It was simple and yet so good.
I honestly have heart palpitations when I try and order a coffee these days because it’s not my mother’s coffee, is it? It’s an expresso or a latte or something with pumpkin-spiced whipped cream on top. Nowadays, I feel guilty if I don’t ask for coffee that’s ethically-sourced. Did you know that you can ask for Kopi Luwak coffee that’s $160-$600 a pound or what about Thai Arabica coffee that’s naturally refined by elephants? It goes by another name: elephant poop coffee. You can find it next to the bat poop coffee.
Have you tried choosing a pair of glasses lately? There are literally millions of choices in the stores or online. How do you pick one? When I was a kid, we had two choices. Ugly and less ugly. I’m not suggesting we go back to that. I’m just saying that it’s very difficult to pick something when you know that the minute you buy it, you’re going to see a pair on someone else that are absolutely stunning and suddenly your new glasses look second-rate. So unfair.
What about getting a dog? Dogs used to be mutts. They followed you home and you took them in. They were free for the taking and absolutely scruffy and adorable. Now, we have designer dogs that cost a flipping fortune. Those in the know now want little French Bulldogs because they’re the most popular canines at the moment. Granted, they are incredibly sweet, but so is the ratty-looking specimen waiting longingly for someone to pick him from behind the wire cage at the pound.
You decide you want to veg in front of the telly on Saturday night, so you go to Netflix and spend an hour trying to pick between an American gangster movie, a British spy thriller, a Russian military drama, an Italian mob series, or a troubling film noire from Norway. There are so many movies with guns and violence and walking dead zombies that I usually give up. Although there was a Swiss documentary on neutrality and the benefits of dark chocolate that looked interesting.
These days, before I go to a restaurant and look through the 15 pages of menu options, I feel the need to take an Ativan.
But the biggest minefield has to be the cosmetic industry. There are so many products for a woman’s skin now, that if she used all of them, her face would melt away in the mirror. It used to be that you were told to wash your face with soap and if you had to, smear on Pond’s cold cream or Noxzema. Then out the door you went.
Now you lather with a non-drying gel or exfoliant product before dabbing on toner and then finger on essential serum before applying your moisturizer, and don’t forget that your sun screen goes on next and, lastly, your liquid foundation, which is sealed in with loose translucent powder before you even start to apply your make-up.
And every cosmetic company screech that their products are the newest, the best, the boldest, the freshest, the safest, the hippest, the hottest, the dewiest … on and on and on.
We are so bombarded with choice, that’s it’s all starting to run together, kind of like when you mix lovely colours in a jar. You reach a tipping point where the water just turns a murky, unappetizing grey.
We don’t need everything.
Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and a fat cat who couldn’t care less.