How many times have you stood in between the shelves of a video store, shifting your weight from one side to the other, waiting for the people you're with to come to some sort of decision about what film you can all agree on watching? If you can't recall a single time that this has happened to you, then congratulations. That means your ability to choose hasn't become sullied by the oppressive need to gain consensus that so many of us suffer.This probably means that you haven't been left standing on the sidewalk in front of a series of restaurants, peering in windows and perusing menus outside while you await some sort of magical solution to the dilemma in front of you: indecision. A limited number of choices would be the easiest possible solution. But that seems completely un-American. I can remember the struggle that ensued between my brother and I when the topic of fast-food came up. Initially, it was all about McDonald's versus Griff's Burger Bar. That was easy enough for my parents to sort out. We could take turns. It would also depend on which end of town we were on at the time. Then they went and opened a Taco Bell. Now we weren't restricted to which burger version we would consume. Now we had to consider those tasty treats from south of the border. Then came the Arby's. And the Burger King. We eventually got a Red Lobster. Then my younger brother started having opinions, and it was all over.
This all came rushing back to me as I stood out in front of a movie theater with my wife, son and brother-in-law. When I say "theater," I mean "series of concrete bunkers with stadium seating." Sixteen of them. Four of us. Each one of us had seen a number of the movies on the marquee. It was nine o'clock. We tried to arrive at some mathematical, democratic, systematic solution to our conundrum. There was none to be found. I briefly considered flipping a coin, but the sheer number of permutations left us all feeling tired, and so we went home. Where we spent another twenty-five minutes discussing what to watch on our Netflix-enabled cable-connected TV. Until "Raising Arizona" came on. Then we were done.
Until it was snack time.