I think I might know what the problem is. We have too many choices.Alternatives galore.When I was growing up with my 3 brothers and younger sister, milk and cereal was the highly sought after food item in our house. There were always 3- 1 gallon jugs of milk in the refrigerator that my sister and I would be responsible for buying. Forget about the fact that neither one of us had drivers licenses. I remember I’d look at the writing on the side of the package and spell it in my head outloud. H-O-M-O-G-E-N-I-Z-E-D P-A-S-T-E-U-R-I-Z-E-D milk. My big brother was always drinking the milk right from the container. He’d stand at the refrigerator with the door open while he chugged the milk and then put it back on the shelf as if it didn’t matter that the rest of us were going to drink after him and wherever his mouth had been. When our father sent us away to summer camp in Idaho so as not to see our grandmother dying from leukemia, I even made up a little sing/chant about milk and cereal. First one up would call out, to no one in particular “First on cereal.” A beat later you’d hear “second”, “third”, “fourth, fifth.” You get the picture. The unfortunate late sleeper missed out on milk and cereal.
I felt like eating Cheerios the other night. It’s a childhood soothing fix for me. I wasn’t in the mood for Captain Crunch. It tears up the gums too much and I just had my teeth cleaned. I thought to myself, I’ll have Cheerios. Plain, simple, Cheerios. That’s what I need. I headed over to Target because I like the atmosphere much better than Ralphs. I walked over to the cereal aisle which turned out to be the Cheerios aisle. I started to spin. What happened to plain Cheerios? When did this occur? Did you know Cheerios now comes in twelve flavors. Honey nut cheerios, multi grain cheerios, apple cinnamon cheerios, banana nut, Chocolate, cinnamon burst, frosted, fruity, oat cluster crunch, yogurt burst, berry burst, chunky clusters Cheerios. I called a friend, who is a mother. “What happened to plain Cheerios?” I asked her. She laughed and said to her Italian husband, with a laugh in her voice, “ Hannah si gira la testa guardando tutti ie tipi di Cheerios.” “Hannah is spinning with the choices of Cheerios.”
This is the problem in a nutshell. How is anyone supposed to decide which flavor of Cheerios to choose from when there are twelve options? What happened to the days of whole, homogenized, pasteurized milk and simple cheerios? Those days are gone. Simplicity is gone.
In its place we have choice. Just like in communication. We can choose to text someone we really don’t want to call. Or we can email them, that way we can conveniently get back to them never. IM’ing is about as far removed from communication as we can take it. Or there’s Facebook. Where we can pretend to be absolutely someone we’re not. Then there’s the old fashioned Cheerios of communication- calling someone on a land line. Nah – too much possibility of them actually answering the phone and having an authentic communication.
I thought strongly about possibly trying banana nut cheerios but decided against it because bananas should be exactly that. A banana cut up and strategically placed in a bowl of cheerios, so that each bite of cereal and milk yields one a bit of banana. Plus I don’t think the potassium translates from the real deal. I opted against even multi grain cheerios. I don’t want chocolate, cinnamon burst, frosted, and yikes who engineered fruity cheerios? I just want plain cheerios. Just like I yearn for the days where we would make a lunch date and time. We wouldn’t text each other 6 times before the actual day because we were running late or had to stop for a non fat vanilla latte. If we could make movies in the 80’s with just walkie talkies on the set without all these devices, why can’t we meet for lunch without having to go back and forth 18 times? We would make a plan the night before. Pick a spot nearby that had food and no one asked about vegetarian, vegan or soy products. We’d look into each other’s eyes, listen and catch up on life. No one was periodically glancing at their iphone 4 to see if G-d forbid, they had missed a call from someone they didn’t really want to talk to. I get little bouts of anxiety from all the beeps and devices going off. I yearn for the olden days. I yearn for plain old Cheerios.