Panic in the Toothpaste Aisle


OK, I’ll admit it. Decisions have never come easy to me. The concept of keeping all my options open always strikes me as the best option of all (which may just have some obscure connection to my perpetual singleness…but I digress).

It was during a seemingly innocent trip to the neighborhood grocery store that my decision-phobia came face-to-face with its greatest nemesis: the toothpaste aisle.

Stretching as far as the eyes could see were tubes, bottles and canisters of every shape, size and variety. Pastes. Gels. Powders. More than 20 varieties of Crest alone. Sheer lunacy.

As I surveyed the bewildering landscape, I wondered how ANYONE might be able to thoughtfully hone in on the ideal choice for his teeth and gums. How could any choice NOT lead to some level of buyer’s remorse (“I think I should’ve gone with the 6 oz. tartar control striped gel pump…DAMN!”)

I also considered if having dozens of toothpaste choices might just stoke a sick demand for even more choices. A bottomless pit that no dental aid could ever satisfy.

Realizing I was getting needlessly worked up, I cooled off by taking a quick stroll down the adjacent aisle and then high-tailing it home. As I left the store – marshmallows in tow – I understood why shopping for toothpaste would always rank right up there with having a root canal. Or perhaps an extraction. Or maybe just a good old-fashioned scaling. 


My Life as a Flip-Flopping News Junkie


I’ve recently come to terms with an undeniable reality about myself. Like it or not, I have some flip-flopping tendencies…at least in the political realm.

This trait is most apparent on weeknights from 9-10 p.m. EDT / 8 -9 p.m. CDT. That’s when the cable news cornucopia includes Rachel Maddow and Joy Behar (on the left-hand side of the dial), Bill O’Reilly (on the right side of the spectrum) and Larry King (trying hard to straddle that non-offensive middle ground). 

Each night, I join with my U-Verse remote control in slicing through a cluttered landscape that epitomizes the divisiveness (and plain-old immaturity) of political discourse in America. While Rachel is skewering a Republican Senator du jour, Bill is demanding the resignation of some lunatic liberal, and Joy is taking every opportunity to bash former President(s) Bush – whether it has any real relevance to the topic at hand or not. These pundits seem to take great joy in attacking each other with the fervor and misguided angst of teenage hooligans.

Sometimes I’m drawn in by the logic and sincerity of their points of view; other times, they just strike me as over-the-top grandstanders existing primarily to serve a particular ideology.

One thing I’m convinced of, however, is that hyperbole and hysteria exists on all sides of the political table. And increasingly, that I think I might prefer to sit at a different table altogether.

Maybe I’m naive, but I happen to believe the real Obama resides somewhere between “Savior” and “Anti-Christ.” Conversely, I think Sarah Palin belongs between the poles of “backwater Barbie” and “power-hungry maniac.” Unfortunately, such middle-of-the-road characterizations don’t seem to fuel compelling news programs.

Since it’s apparently too much to ask for a cable news channel that’s TRULY fair and balanced, I guess I will continue my nightly news-roulette ritual…and always keep a fresh set of batteries handy.