The other day I was listening to a story on NPR, about people stuck driving the guzzliest gas guzzlers, and what they were doing about it. I was struck by one man’s interview. He drove a Ford Excursion, the biggest SUV evahr, the station-wagon equivalent of an F-350 SuperDuty pickup truck. The man explained that he needed an extra-large vehicle; he and his wife had five children between them, “so we had no choice” but to buy the Excursion.
Five plus two is seven. That’s how many seats he needed. By my reckoning, that means he could have chosen just about any minivan, and a large number of other SUVs with third-row seating, nearly all of which get better gas mileage than the Excursion. But he had no choice.
Of course, as all adults know, there’s always a choice. It’s just difficult to make sometimes. For instance, yesterday I could have chosen to have something lean and protein-y and vegetable-heavy for lunch, but instead I had a cheese quesadilla. Then I had two Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux cookies for dessert. If only it had been mandatory, but it was a choice. Some of you are feeling smug and superior, the same way I felt about Mr. Excursion. If it makes you feel any better, I went fiber-heavy for dinner (black beans) and took a long bike ride in penance. That was a choice, too.
I hate choices. I especially hate the way they’ve become the behavioral equipment of fiber. Been in an elementary school lately? “Make good choices” is the new “eat from all four food groups.” Earlier this year Kate was scolded by a teacher for the following: A boy threw down a book, and it took a funny bounce and hit a girl in the leg. She gave out a loud, cartoon-y howl of pain, hopping around on one foot, and Kate laughed. Laughing, the teacher said, was “a poor choice.” I wonder what George Carlin would do with that one.
We rail about wanting more control over our world, which means more choices. And then the vacuum cleaner dies, and we go to Sears. First we choose a price range, then we choose a brand, then we choose bagless or not, onboard tools or not, upright or canister, until our heads spin and we howl with pain and go eeny-meeny-miney-moe. There have been times, while buying a household appliance, that I wished I lived in the old Soviet Union. I would have happily gotten on a list and stood in line for five hours if, at the other end of the line, there was one vacuum cleaner, and the choice was: Take it or leave it.
A particularly smelly Metro Mayhem today: Boy, 1, shot during fight over glasses. Eyeglasses, that is. (Huge, heavy sigh.) And they were probably knockoffs.
Christopher Hitchens speaks ill of the dead, and boy did they deserve it. Jesse Helms, of course.
Oh, and if you have time, prepare to waste it now: Look at what everyone’s uploading to Flickr, in real time, on a rotating globe. Don’t blame me when nothing gets done. (HT: Vince.)
Now, I choose to go to work and write more mediocre prose. Leave a better comment. (It shouldn’t be hard.)