Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do We Really Need So Many Choices??

I am not a shopper. More than likely, the testosterone level in my hormone mix that makes my heart race a little when I see heavy yellow equipment or power tools contributes to my lack of excitement about this sport. I shop like a man-know what you want, get in, don't look anyone in the eyes, get out and go home. The exception to this would be thrift store shopping but I really don't consider that shopping at all. Thrift store shopping is more of a game or a treasure hunt where you always have a chance to win the prize of the day. Very different.

Since I am not a shopper, I am sure it comes as no surprise that I am not into the whole social aspect associated with grocery shopping. I don't want to be there at all, so I surely don't want to park my monster pot metal cart in the middle of the aisle to chat while my frozen food is melting. Get in, get out, go home. Yes, it has briefly crossed my mind to ram the two ladies with my monster cart as they are blocking the aisle chatting about a reality tv show. Fortunately, I have learned to control such impulses. Maybe horns on shopping carts would be a good idea. Even if people don't stop to chat, it's against human nature for them not to do the quick sideways look into your cart to get a glimpse into your personal life. Aha! I see that full fat icecream nestled among those Lean Cuisines...Avid thrift store shoppers are completely opposite of grocery store shoppers. There's no chatting or visitng. A quick hello with no eye contact is the most that ever happens in this arena and neither person physically stops. If you stop, you lose your position and another rabid thrift store addict will get ahead and be first to eyeball "the great find".

Since I live by myself, my grocery shopping is very limited. I typically only pick up a few items at a time. I'm in and I'm out. Nice. Recently, I had company stay with me so I decided to pick up some orange juice which is something I don't normally purchase. One of the most popular grocery stores in my area is the size of a strip mall. I virtually never shop there because of its humongous size and invariably I forget one item that just happens to be all the way back on the other side of the store. Until they install motorized aisles or an underground subway system, this will never be my store of choice. On this particular day, it happened to be the closest option,so I popped in to get the juice.

When I was growing up, there was one kind of orange juice. Frozen. You popped off the metal circle on top of the paper cylinder, scooped out the frozen concentrate with a spoon, almost burned your fingers from the intense cold, added so many cans of water and voila! You had some off tasting bitter liquid that we called orange juice. I am not sure if it really was bitter or if my Mom added something to it that made it taste more like grapefruit juice than orange juice. She fooled none of us kids when she fortified her mashed potatoes with turnips. That was just cruel. We all loved creamy, moldable mashed potatoes. I would fashion mine into a volcano, use a spoon to make a well on top, add the butter and wait for it to melt into lava. Kids had wild imaginations back then because we hardly even had television, never mind all the electronic amusements children of today can't seem to live without. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that first creamy butter drenched bite was laced with bitter stringy chunks of turnip. Not funny.

I prefer not to use frozen orange juice, so I headed over to the already made variety. There were cooler doors after cooler doors of orange juice choices. No pulp, 2 pieces of pulp, some pulp, lots of pulp, move your bowels pulp, OMG, now that's what I'm talking about! pulp, ridiculous pulp, go get your knife pulp, added calcium, nothing added, fresh squeezed, not from concentrate, from concentrate, added vitamins, with tangerine, store brand, major brands, etc., etc., etc. I was so overwhelmed I just stood there in awe. As I began narrowing down my choices, reading all the possibilities, I just started giggling.

My walk toward the checkout led me past the bread aisle. I mean that literally. There was an entire aisle devoted only to bread. We had two types of bread when I was a child-the dry bread my Mom bought with crusts so dense I swear they could cut your lip and Wonder Bread that my best friend was so lucky to have. I remember the first time I ate Wonder Bread at her house. Her Mom even cut the crusts off and it tasted like candy. When it mixed with saliva, it turned into a ball of putty that stuck to the roof of my mouth until I released it with a push of my tongue. Each bite was a little piece of heaven. Back in "those days", we just never had choices like we do today. Grocery stores were more like corner markets. They were small with limited choices but completely adequate. If you came in for ketchup, you might get 2 choices, if it was bath soap, maybe 3-Ivory, Yellow Dial or Cashmere Bouquet. Limited choices certainly simplified shopping. It is my understanding that Europeans still shop this way. Nice. I often wonder, do we really need so many choices? 

Just maybe we do.........................