Donna Reed/Voices: So many decisions to be made

Donna Reed/Voices: So many decisions to be made


Having lots of choices is usually a good thing. Which restaurant tonight? What movie should we see? Where is the best place to buy an item? Which park should we visit with Dudley today? But sometimes, those choices become overwhelming, and there are just too many decisions to make.

Take for instance buying a simple cup of coffee. Did I say simple? It takes dedication and perseverance to familiarize oneself with the coffee lingo that goes into ordering a cup of coffee nowadays. In this community alone I have frequented at least five or six coffee shops that require a few vocabulary lessons before ordering a beverage. For instance, the first words uttered at one popular coffee shop may need to be changed. "I'll have a small cup," could have a barista asking, "Do you mean a tall or grande?" Lesson number one ... a tall is small, a grande is medium and a venti is large. A small 8-ounce cup? That would be a short cup.

There are 10 or more coffee drink selections and four times that many espresso drinks at some popular coffee stops in town. When placing my order, I make at least five decisions. Am I in the mood for a hot or iced drink? Whole milk or skim in my tall or grande latte? What's the difference in milk, foam and/or espresso ratio between a latte and a cappuccino? Do I want a seasonal flavor like pumpkin spice or regular flavor? Whipped cream added? All of this while the line of coffee patrons behind me just keeps getting longer!

Although ordering a cup of coffee can be daunting, at least I am talking directly to someone who is knowledgeable about my selection and can guide me through the many choices. Not so when buying other products that have just too many options.

My husband recently added toothpaste to my grocery list. The complexity accompanying this purchase was like studying for a multiple-choice exam. I stood there staring at row upon row of the vast varieties of one toothpaste brand. Did he want a tube of "3-D white brilliance mesmerizing mint," or "cavity protection fluoride, original flavor, peroxide whitening with baking soda and tartar control?" My exasperation and curiosity later led me to a Google search that disclosed 21 different kinds of "his" toothpaste. Really?

Just as a song gets stuck in my head, I couldn't stop thinking about all the choices people make as they go about their day. On a subsequent trip to the store, I became acutely aware of the alternatives offered when buying my normal every day items. Each week I buy yogurt that requires me to consider low fat or nonfat, lite or regular, plain, blended or fruit on the bottom. Should I buy organic? What about Greek, Icelandic or regular?

Owners of finicky felines stare at multiple shelves of cat food and carefully read the fine print on dozens of canned varieties. A cat owner makes one slip up and that ruler of all domestic pets will make you pay!

And what about two-ply or three-ply? Single, double or triple roll? Quilted? Recycled? Ultra soft or ultra strong?

Not only consumables but certain clothing as well may require too many decisions. Do I buy tights, leggings, stockings or panty hose (we don't wear those anymore, do we?) It leaves me exhausted. And guys, at this point you may want to leave the room for a minute while the topic turns to purchasing women's jeans. What fit do I want? Low rise, mid-rise, high-rise, stretch or non-stretch? What about leg cut? Do I want skinny, straight, boot, boy friend, flare, capri, cropped or cuffed? Color and jean wash give us such choices as dark wash, faded, black, gray, stone wash, acid wash, destroyed or distressed. Distressed? That goes without saying!

Well, enough. I'm off to run some errands. I think I'll wear my distressed, stone wash denim, straight leg, mid rise, stretch jeans today and swing by to pick up a tall, single shot, 170 degree, skinny, caramel flavored Latte with no whip cream. Fortified with my coffee, I'm headed to the store to buy a tube of tartar control, whitening, gel, mint toothpaste and my nonfat, strawberry fruit on the bottom, Greek, 120 calories yogurt. Several 3-ounce cans, no larger, of hairball control, adult, ocean fish entre, no chicken, and I'm almost finished. The only thing left on my list then is to get a few new light bulbs. Now that shouldn't be a problem, should it?

Donna Reed is the author of "My Voice," essays on the warm and funny moments of life. She lives in Champaign.

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