“Don’t end up at Barnes and Noble,” my daughter pleaded at the end of a cell phone conversation right before my husband came home from work on Friday.
We were going out on a date—spring break item #7, for those who are counting—and if history was any indication, about one troubled meal and ninety minutes away from aimless aisle wandering and a video on the couch.
My husband had given this date a pretty good trailer, though, so I’d looked forward to it with some anticipation. I’d categorized it in the “mystery” genre, as I had next to nothing to go on, but when he came through the door carrying a slender manila folder, I started thinking along the lines of James Bond, or Mission Impossible.
Inside the folder were three columns of numbered sticky notes with the headlines “Dinner,” “Shopping,” and “Film.” The rules, he said, were simple. Once an option was uncovered, I had to decide to accept it or move on, but the catch was, I couldn’t go back.
Twelve possibilities for dinner, seven for shopping—each with varying funds I could spend—and nine potential movies—what fun! I quickly removed the starting options in each category—obvious throw-aways (McDonalds, Wal-Mart, and a movie called “Jumper,” which may be a perfectly fine film, but not one with which I was familiar.)
I kept going.
The options got better—a nice Mexican restaurant, a decent Target allowance, a fun romantic comedy. But all those uncovered options...what might I miss?
I continued peeling Post-its.
From bar and grill fare, Barnes and Nobel (“I can’t go home and tell our daughter I ended up at Barnes and Nobel”) and a well-reviewed drama, I wound up with: “Bag Lunch—PBJ,” “$25 at K-Mart” and some really scary sounding flick called “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.”
There was nothing I could do but keep peeling.
It’s a good thing my husband knows me well, that he’s no stranger to my “grass must be greener” urges. Because brown-bagging it in K-Mart duds at a B-movie is what people like me typically come to in the end. By the time I’d reached a tidy, three digit sum at Macy’s and WAS STILL THINKING my date had tuned into “Deal or No Deal” and I was the contestant poised to reject a massive payday and go home with a penny.
But my husband knows I can’t stand the unknown. That I have to know “what could have been,” that I struggle with understanding that the best things are the ones that you have.
Knowing it would likely get to that point, my husband saved some sweet options for the end, allowing me to enjoy a piping hot pot pie, a shopping spree at the mall (variety!) and the same romantic comedy I reluctantly passed by in the number four spot.
He says it won’t go down this way next time. He says I need to learn when to embrace what’s before me and stop second guessing my choices.
Otherwise, next time I’ll be wiping peanut butter off my Wal-Mart T-shirt as I trudge into the video store.