Having no choices is devastating, like when there is only one internet service provider in town so you’re stuck with it, no matter how slow it is.  But an overabundance of choice can be devastating in its own way.  Overwhelming.  Paralyzing.  Who wants to spend an hour in the cereal aisle at the supermarket, comparing the nutrition information on fifty different kinds?  Not me.  But that’s nothing compared to what you go through in the paint section of the hardware store. Thought you knew exactly what color you wanted?  Think again.


The art of choosing isn’t hard to master,
or so it seems, ‘til you must muddle through
a range of options growing ever vaster

My bedroom walls were faded and lackluster
I pictured in my mind a soothing blue
The art of choosing isn’t hard to master

The counter clerk was helpful and amassed a
stack of azure swatches for review
the range of options growing ever vaster

I stood there, google-eyed and flabbergasted
I hemmed and hawed, perhaps off-white would do?
The art of choosing can be hard to master

“What shade?  There’s picket fence or alabaster
meringue, vanilla, biscuit, pearl, ecru… ”
the range of options growing ever vaster

She jabbered on and on as I wheeled past her
and bid my brush and roller sad adieu
The art of choosing proved too hard to master,
an empty-handed blue and white disaster

*A parody of ONE ART by Elizabeth Bishop

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12 thoughts on “BRUSH, ROLLER, TAPE, FORGET IT

  1. Tippy Gnu June 10, 2018 / 7:50 am

    Ain’t that the truth? I never choose paint color. I always leave that for my wife. She ends up bringing home a pile of swatches to show me. I look at each one and say, “Mmhmm,” while scanning her demeanor for clues on what she likes. I go with her preference so I never have to hear a complaint. I think “we” just recently chose something like “Satin Moon” for our wall color. Looks just as good as any other white, to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 10, 2018 / 9:53 am

      I might go for “Picket Fence” myself, Tippy. It sounds kind of American Dream-ish. Or maybe “Biscuit” with “Sausage Gravy” trim. I am the wife, so I don’t have the “Mmhmm” option like you do. All those different brands, with or without primer, satin or semi-gloss, then the buttload of color swatches… half the day you’ve planned for your project is blown before you even get out of the store. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter Klopp June 10, 2018 / 9:35 am

    In general too much choice as your poem clearly states is painful and depressing. But I would always prefer too much choice over too little choice. Thanks for publishing your well crafted poem, Joan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 10, 2018 / 10:13 am

      Thanks, Peter. I agree that choice is good, to a point. I think three is the perfect number of options–not overwhelming, not a monopoly. Three cable companies. Three kinds of cereal: Cheerios, granola, and oatmeal. If LL Bean offered their fleece tops in only three colors, the decision would be easy: one of each. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 10, 2018 / 4:06 pm

      That’s one way to do it, PB. Or fan out the swatches, close your eyes, and pick one at random? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. L. T. Garvin, Author June 10, 2018 / 3:25 pm

    I agree, Joan. The paint aisle is overwhelming! It so happens, that I’m married to the Paint Nazi (as I fondly call him). I was always proud of my painting skills ’til he showed up and tore my work apart. Jhessh! Anyway, he told me one time that there are something like 80 shades of white. Why oh why must there be such astronomical, mind-numbing choices? At the end of the day, I just grab one and a deal is made from that point. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan June 10, 2018 / 4:01 pm

      My father was a semi-professional housepainter (he was a school teacher, it was his summer job) and I don’t think there is anyone as fussy about precision work or cleaning brushes, except maybe your Paint Nazi. 80 shades of white? You must be joking! I hope you’re joking. Faced with too many choices, I turn into a deer in the headlights. Do we really need 18 different styles of Crock-Pots? Stymied by auto-start features and fondue settings and such, I walk out of the store, Zombie-like. And Crock-Pot-less. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. T. Garvin, Author June 12, 2018 / 6:15 pm

        Oh no, first the paint, then the crock-pots, LOL. I know what you mean, though 😀 I also know about school teachers with second jobs, sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan October 2, 2018 / 10:25 am

      Thanks, Muri. I’m easily overwhelmed by the plethora of choices we have available to us. 🙂


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