When Buttercup was young her parents separated and began ferociously battling for custody. Because she was twelve, she was allowed to choose which parent she would live with, and because the courts would not separate siblings, she would also make that choice for her four-year-old sister. She did make the choice, she had to, and maybe she even enjoyed, if only a tiny bit, the power everyone told her she had, but the years that followed were filled with drama and tears, painful separations and recriminations. By the time I met her as a young adult, she panicked reading a menu, and when the waiter finally disappeared to fetch her selection, she immediately began regretting her decision, because if she had made the wrong choice, of course everything would be ruined, it would be all her fault, and when the food was placed in front of her, she would wail, I knew I should have chosen the other. As she had more practice at being an adult, her indecision was more easily camouflaged, but she could still be ambushed at times by the need to make the right choice. For example, if she were on vacation, and could either go horse-back riding or take a scheduled tour, she would have to call her sister to ask her what to do.
Buttercup told us she had the opportunity to buy a video business. What did we think? Netflix, over 90,000 selections without ever leaving your comfy chair, we said, it’s hard (because we were being gentle, we didn’t say impossible) for an independent bricks and mortar operation to compete.
But I want a person I trust to tell me what's good, she said, dismissing mail-order movie rentals all together, I would never rent a movie without recommendations.
Point taken. The idea of 90,000 choices might be a tad too many for Buttercup.
It's easy for me to see the repeating pattern in Buttercup's life, but in mine? Surely not. Surely I'm making my decisions on the facts, m'am, the present situation, not on some mental quirk I picked up while scrambling for a foot hold years ago.