What I’ve Learned from Cereal


I’ve been going to the grocery store pretty much every day that I’ve been unemployed. It’s not that I’ve been eating any more, cooking more elaborate meals, or developing an awkward mid-century style friendship with the fish guy where I ask him about ‘the scallops’ and he tells me ‘they’re fresh’ and that’s all a backdoor metaphor for the overall state of affairs in the world, I just have more time.

My increased grocery store visitation has taught me a few things. It’s taught me that my pheromones, aside from attracting a random and incongruous group of women over the course of my life, give off another signal, one that tells old Jewish* women to push me out of the way in the produce section. It’s taught me that the group that buys the most gourmet cheese is not wives’ hosting dinner parties, but guys cooking for a date. It’s taught me that patchouli, despite all reason and logic in the world, is still worn by people and it’s taught me that less is almost always more.

I learned the last, and I believe most important grocery lesson, in the cereal aisle. There are so many options these days in the boxed breakfast section that mothers are instructed to tell their children not to try and see them all at once, fearing that any attempt at completely absorbing the immense selection will blind a child or render them dimple-less. And to what end? If anything, the number of cereal choices at the store make it harder to choose, and that’s probably the point. Somebody, somewhere, knows that if they can keep people trying to choose between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios**, they won’t worry so much about all the decisions that are made for them.

*I can say this because I come from a long line of non-pushy Jews and because it’s true.

**This impossible decision prompted my post. It’s like choosing between two children in a burning house. Do you go with the smarter one or the better looking one?


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