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FROM THE VALLEY: It's A Matter Of Choice

By Tom Valley

“Men don't care what's on TV. They only care what else is on TV.” That

comes from Jerry Seinfeld. It's an insightful perspective; not to mention, an

admission of shallowness on the part of the male psyche, by, surprisingly,

another male. Traitor!

But the thrust of his disclosure yields an elemental flaw which I have had to

deal with most of my life. The process of making choices has been an Achilles

heel of mine since I can remember. Whenever I'm faced with the prospect of

choosing between two options, it's best that I have a coin handy.

If I'm in a restaurant, the simple prospect of ordering food becomes an issue:

which salad dressing do I want; what type of potato should I get? That's when

my wife, Kathie, usually speaks up and politely tells the server “He'll have

French dressing and french fries.” Alrighty, then. Sounds good to me. Saved,


And because of how progress rolls, things are getting worse. More to pick

from. I remember in the old days, when my mother sent me to the store to get

milk, I went and got milk. Other than chocolate, there were no alternatives.

Today, if my wife asks me to pick up milk, I have to know: whole milk,

skim milk, 1 percent, 2 percent, low-fat, lactose-free, almond, soy, coconut,

organic or whole-cream milk. And that's just for starters. Then there's the pint

size, one quart, half-gallon, gallon and the enormous 55-gallon drum. (Well,

maybe not that big – that's just my way of emphasizing something; a literary

exclamation point, if you will. Thanks, I liked that explanation, too.)

Ever go down the cereal aisle? It's the whole damn aisle! Try picking out a

cereal you like. No one ever goes right to what they want and just grabs it off

the shelf. People stand there looking like a deer in the headlights, just staring.

When I was a kid, the process was simple. I'd pick the one with the best toy

inside. Clear cut deal-maker.

Remember Coca-Cola, plain ol' Coca-Cola? What in tarnation happened?

What are there ... about four or five hundred different variants of Coke now?

Let's move on. (And yes, Mr. Merna, “different variants' is redundant. Guilty as

charged. It's a true fact .... hey, stop that.)

Which brings me to yesterday when the TV in my sports-watching room,

the Zone - I hate the word mancave - died and I had to replace it. I wanted one

ASAP (lest I miss that night's Yankee game) and so I took a trip to the nearby

Walmart. Talk about decisions?! Holy cow! I finally told the salesman, “Look,

here's how much money I've got. I want the biggest color TV I can get for this


He looked at me funny. “The only color we have is black. I'm not sure if

they even make them in different colors. What color were you looking for?” I

told him I was a creature of habit, and after showing him that my social-

security number was in Roman numerals, he got my drift.

Bottom line (almost): I got the thing home and opened the box. No manual.

They don't use manuals anymore. You are supposed to use your smart-ass

phone and take a picture of the smart-ass symbol on the smart-ass color TV.

Choices: I'm not just talking about the number of channels that cable gives

you – of which 90% are garbage – my daughter, Melissa, showed me the

numerous array of programming I can get on this brainiac set. And so, after

familiarizing myself with the process – well, as familiar as I'll ever get - I

decided to look and see if there was something that might catch my eye,

something I might like to watch;.

Before I realized it, I'd spent two hours scrolling all over the damn place and

still couldn't find something I was happy with – which is how I roll in life, by

the way. And when I tried to go back to something I'd seen that I thought might

be okay, I couldn't find it. It was like I was on a one way street into the abyss of

you've-got-to-be-kidding me TV. And for a guy who can't make a decision, it's

pure hell. Pure hell, I might add, with the convenience of a smart-ass remote-

control. Woo-hoo, lucky me.

Oh well. As Robert Frost once said: “In three words I can sum up

everything I learned about life: it goes on.”

Just so you know: it took me a full day to decide which quote to use there.

And that's the way it looks from the Valley.

The author Tom Valley with his dog Maggie pondering a choice.

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