A few years ago, I met with a couple of Australian clients. We’ll call them Jim and Jeff. We took them out to dinner, sat down, had a drink and it was time to order. They each asked for a steak to which our server replied, “We have rib-eye, strip, sirloin and T-bone.” After that it was “Would you like that rare, medium rare, medium well or well done?” Salad? No problem. “We have a nice endive dish, a tasty romaine and radicchio mix and a lovely mix of all three.” Dressing? “We have a light vinaigrette, a heavy vinaigrette, a balsamic vinaigrette, French, Ranch, Russian, Palestinian, Siberian and a special celestial dressing that’s out of this world. We also have a nice selection of custom crafted dressings if you’d like.” “You’d like a Coke? I’ll get that for you right away. “Would you like a diet coke, a 0 Calorie coke, a light coke, a regular coke or a cherry, lemon, lime, or vanilla coke?”
Our server goes on her merry way and Jim says to me “I could have eaten my meal and be halfway home by now. You’ve got way too many choices in this country, mate. Dessert and coffee? Thanks, but I don’t think so. I’ve got to be home by next Thursday.”
Yes, Jim, I agree. There are way too many choices.
What was once either Tetley or Lipton tea is now Green tea, Black tea, Taiwanese Oolong tea or Baozhong tea or Ginger caffeine free tea or Licorice spice herbal tea or Pure Camomile naturally caffeine free tea and 423,000 others. It’s tea on steroids.
What’s the difference between caffeine free and naturally caffeine free? Caffeine is defined as “a bitter alkaloid found especially in coffee, tea, cacao, and kola nuts.” Ok so if caffeine is naturally part of a tea plant then how do you naturally remove it? Naturally kind of implies something out of our control, right? So, you are either naturally removing the caffeine unnaturally or removing it unnaturally naturally. Can we remind ourselves that we are talking about tea please? It’s fucking tea.
Let’s say you’re a Martian that’s been transported to Earth and you need to go grocery shopping. You’re given a list that says milk, cereal, bread, cheese and Cocoa-Cola. You look at the list and think that’s a pretty boring diet but I got this. No problem, fully aware that you’ve never been to Earth before and you’ve heard stories about this place. Like any respectable Martian Ambassador, you head to your local grocery store with honor.
You’re in the dairy aisle and see milk, as far as your phaser will reach. You see whole milk, 1% milk, 2% milk, Low fat milk, organic milk, slimmed milk, Lactose free milk, soy milk, almond milk and evaporated milk. Where did the evaporated milk evaporate to? This is too confusing so you decide it’s time to call headquarters for some guidance. You make the call and hear “Your call is very important to us. Someone will be with you shortly.” I guess I’ll have to wing it. I’m not even halfway down the aisle when I arbitrarily grab a container of 2% simply because I lost interest.
I finally arrive at the cereal aisle after a bit of a traffic jam in canned goods. I silently and calmly stare down the aisle. “There’s more than just Corn Flakes? I thought all they had here was Corn Flakes.” I guess I should be a little more diligent in reading “Earth Monthly” a little more often. So I go with the Corn Flakes. Everyone loves Corn Flakes, right? So now I’m off to the bread world. How hard could this be? It’s bread. It’s a round lump of dough.
I did find my round lump of dough, right next to the long, skinny ones, the crunchy ones and the soft ones. The wheat bread, pumpernickel bread, white bread, whole grain bread, semolina bread, French bread, Italian bread, sourdough bread and about ¼ mile down, potato rolls. Potato rolls? I’m sorry, you’re either a potato or a roll. And where’s the Wonder bread?
To think it took me a half hour to get here. There was a fender bender in aisle 73 and even though someone was obviously going the wrong way down a one-way aisle, you think they maybe could have spotted each other from 100 feet away?
Anyway, time to call headquarters again and I hear “This number is no longer in service.” What the fuck! I think it’s fair to say I no longer have a job, so I toss a sourdough loaf into the cart and find myself disturbingly curious to see what cheese and Cocoa-Cola are all about as well as whether or not I will be reimbursed for all this food.
After a speedy trip to the cheese area all I could think of is “All I want is a chunk of cheese. I don’t care if it’s what you call Swiss or American or Gouda or Cheddar or the other ¼ mile of cheeses you have out there. Can you please just give me a chunk of cheese? Thank you.”
Remember Coke? I’m standing in the aisle where they have Coke. As you may recall, there’s diet coke, 0 Calorie coke, light coke, regular coke or cherry, lemon, lime, or vanilla coke. I don’t have patience anymore for any of this so I decide to get a couple of cases of Pepsi.
I don’t need this shit, especially at $8.75/hour. And it’s not like their insurance was anything great. Insurance covers cataract surgery but puts a cap on coverage at 2 eyes.
So I put my custom trifocals on and prepared my report. “Humans possess an acute obsession with variety that, at times, makes no sense. As an example, what’s the difference between 12 and 15 whole grain bread besides 3? Do 3 extra whole grains make that much of a difference either way?”
Expectations for survival of the human race are dismal. With more variety comes more time to choose and less time to eat and with it continuing at such an alarming rate, humans will eventually starve themselves.