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Pro (Too Many) Choices
by Mad Dog


The problem is, we have too many choices. Where at one time cars, telephones, and Oreos all came in one color selection, now we have, well, 45,000 choices.
If youíre shopping for a Rolls Royce Phantom be warned, it wonít be easy. Itís not the car payments that are the problem. After all, they wonít even allow you to step foot in the showroom without pulling your credit report. Even then, if you want to walk around without a security guard breathing down your neck you need to be on the Forbes 400 list. Near the top. Of course you could try casually flashing your wallet to show them the $328,750 in cash the car will set you back. That can work too. But the problem isnít money, itís deciding on a paint color. After all, they only offer 45,000 to choose from. Henry Ford must be laughing hysterically in his grave.

   Ford was, after all, reputed to have said about the Model T, ďThe customer can have any color he wants so long as it's black.Ē He was a smart guy, he knew his customers didnít want to sit in a showroom flipping through a book of paint swatches that makes the Oxford English Dictionary look like CliffsNotes. Of course no one who would buy a Rolls Royce would do that. After all, thatís what hired help is for.

   I suspect the actual procedure is to bring in something to match ó a shirt, a couch, a Matisse, a Pekinese ó and theyíll duplicate the color for you. Or if youíre impulsive and need the car for a date that night, you take what they have on the showroom floor and have it repainted next week to suit your mood. Or to match your Pekinese after sheís been to the grooming parlor for a color, cut, and set.


There are now at least 17 types of Oreos, including peanut butter, mint, yellow cookie, fudge covered, double creme and the affirmative action role reversed version that has a white cookie and chocolate creme, the favorite of liberals everywhere. Good luck finding a regular old Oreo.
   I donít have to worry about making this decision anytime soon ó unfortunately ó Iím just mentioning it in case youíre one of those people who have trouble making up their mind and youíre thinking about buying a car. If thatís the case you might want to stick with something like a Prius since it comes in just eight colors. At least then if youíre having trouble deciding you can tape the color samples to a wall and throw a dart, with a Rolls Royce youíd need to post them on the Great Wall of China.

   The problem is, we have too many choices. Where at one time cars, telephones, and Oreos all came in one color selection, now we have, well, 45,000 choices. For example, once upon a time there was mayonnaise. You had to choose which brand you liked, but that was it. Now thereís regular, light, fat-free, canola, with lime juice, and with mustard. Three kinds of mustard no less. It wonít be long before you can take home a jar of soy decaf shade grown fair trade dolphin-free mayonnaise. Then all youíll need to do is decide whether you want a small jar, medium jar, large jar, or popcorn tub size. It makes ketchup sound better all the time.

   Then there are Oreos. There are now at least 17 types of Oreos, including peanut butter, mint, yellow cookie, fudge covered, double creme and the affirmative action role reversed version that has a white cookie and chocolate creme, the favorite of liberals everywhere. Good luck finding a regular old Oreo. Iíd recommend buying some Oreo Cookie ice cream and piecing them together.


A menu shouldnít be as long as a Stephen King book. Of course neither should a Stephen King book, but since I donít need to read The Stand before I can eat, Iím not worried about it.
   All these choices make it difficult not only to decide what you want, but to actually make it home with the right thing. For reasons best known to the marketing department, manufacturers keep the labels the same and print the variant in small, unobtrusive letters using invisible ink. Right, like grocery shopping wasnít enough fun before. At least half the time I get home and discover that I accidentally bought fat-free low-sodium tuna-flavored free range cream cheese by mistake. Itís not worth my time to take it back, and it sure isnít worth my mental health to eat it. So I throw it out. (Hereís a handy shopping tip: look for the word ďoriginalĒ on the package. It wonít be prominent, and youíll pick up four other kinds before you find it, but thatís the real stuff you want.)

   Restaurants are another place where weíre getting too many choices. A menu shouldnít be as long as a Stephen King book. Of course neither should a Stephen King book, but since I donít need to read The Stand before I can eat Iím not worried about it. Simply put, I donít want to spend more time reading a menu than it will take me to eat my dinner. Itís a personal rule. I have enough trouble deciding what food ethnicity or style I want to eat, donít make me go catatonic when the waitperson comes to the table for the fifth time to take my order.

   There is one place where we could use more choices ó elections. We get two choices, three if weíre lucky and donít care about the quality of the third candidate. And even with that it feels like thereís no choice at all. Itís like buying a rancid hot dog and being offered anchovies or peanut butter as a topping. It needs something desperately, but why are those my only choices? So I say stick with a simple black Rolls Royce. Go back to eating plain old Oreos and mayonnaise. But please, give us more choices where we need it ó like the next presidential election.

©2006 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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