Garcon, What are my Options?

I thought it would be nice to offer guests choices in the dinner options, but I was wrong. There’s a shrimp, a beef and a vegetarian dish and that’s still too much for some people to choose from.

I was on the phone with my younger sister, the most indecisive person in the world, and I mistakenly asked her the 5-hour question.

“What do you want to eat at the wedding?”

“What are my choices?” she said.

I should have known better. My younger sister is the girl who changes her mind every five seconds when ordering a plain hamburger at McDonald’s. She’s the girl who plays for both teams in a game of tag, which results in the premature ending of the game because everyone else is so confused. It’s the reason I stopped inviting her out with me anywhere. She’s not too happy about that. But the root of her unhappiness is not me at all. It is really her freedom of choice.

The psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote an entire book on this topic: The Paradox of Choice. He asserts that the more choices a person has, the less happy they are because of the anxiety caused by too much choice. I might write a follow-up to that book and title it, The Paradox of Giving Choices. Currently that is the root of my unhappiness.

For now, whenever a guest starts to ask too many questions about the menu, I stop them and say they will be eating the surprise meal. And the surprise is whatever I feel like giving them of the three dinner options.

If you think about it, I’m not only feeding the guests, I am also ensuring their happiness–at least for that meal.


About JadedBride

Amy Kraft is a print and radio journalist based in New York. Her work has appeared in publications including Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, The Week, Psychology Today, and Distillations, a podcast out of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. She is currently working on a book of humor essays. View all posts by JadedBride

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