Recently I had to go to the drugstore to buy a tube of toothpaste. It took me an hour and a half and I almost had a nervous breakdown. In all honesty, I absolutely believe that there are people in psychiatric hospitals right now who are there as a direct result of shopping for toothpaste. In fact, in the top ten list of life stressors, I think toothpaste shopping is right up there behind Death, Moving, and Divorce. And actually, if done with your spouse, toothpaste shopping can probably lead to divorce.

The problem for me started, of course, when I ran out of toothpaste. Surprisingly, in my house, this is not a common event. I typically buy a good number of my heavily-used drug store items in bulk at one of those wholesale clubs where the choices are limited and one box contains enough toothpaste for a year. Given three different kinds of toothpaste to choose from, I can usually narrow it down pretty easily and be done with the whole thing before you can say, “Look Ma, no cavities.”

However, one fine day I was packing for a trip when I realized we were almost out of toothpaste. I didn’t really feel like making the whole trip to the wholesale club, so I decided to just swing buy the local drug store and pick up a tube.
What I didn’t realize was that at some point over the years while I had been buying in bulk, the toothpaste manufacturers had all lost their minds. What other reason could explain the fact that toothpaste now took up an entire aisle of the drugstore, all by itself, with more brands, features and shapes than you could squeeze a tube of, er, well, you know what, at.

There was the Cool Mint Gel, the Rejuvenating Effects Liquid Gel, the Multicare Paste, Multicare Gel, Tartar Control Paste, Tartar Control Gel, Toothpaste Plus Scope, Gel Plus Scope, Sensitivity, and Sensitivity with Scope. There was the Whitening Paste, the Whitening Gel, Dual-Care Whitening, Multicare Whitening, and Tartar Control Whitening. There was Whitening Plus Scope, Whitening Plus Scope Extreme, Vivid White, and Whitening Expressions in Cinnamon Rush, Extreme Herbal Mint, Refreshing Vanilla Mint and Lemon Ice.

And this was just one brand.

There were thirteen other brands to choose from and they all had their own versions of gels, pastes, flavors and features. There were toothpastes just for seniors, toothpastes just for kids and toothpastes for people who don’t even have any teeth. There was toothpaste with ginger, toothpaste with fennel, and toothpaste with all natural sea algae for people who want breath as fresh as kelp. There was so much toothpaste, it made my head hurt and I finally had to take a break and go over to the analgesic aisle and buy some aspirin. Unfortunately, when I got there, I couldn’t find the aspirin because the shelves were overflowing with various brands of Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen and Naproxen in caplets, tablets, geltabs, gelcaps, coated caplets, coated tablets, liquid and drops.

Realizing that I would get a bigger headache looking for headache medicine, I bailed on the analgesics and decided what I really needed was a cold drink. Fortunately, this was one of those drug stores that also had a refrigerated section, so I headed over to the soda case and searched the racks for a diet soda. They had regular Coke, Diet Coke, Caffeine Free Coke, Caffeine Free Diet Coke, Coke with Lemon, Coke with Lime, Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, and Coca-Cola Zero.

Don’t even get me started on the Pepsi.

Feeling utterly and completely overwhelmed by the myriad of choices in just about every category of the store, I went back to the toothpaste aisle, closed my eyes, reached out and grabbed the first tube my hand came in contact with.

That night my husband went into the bathroom to brush his teeth before bed.

“Hey Honey,” he said, holding up the new tube of toothpaste. “Why do we have a toothpaste for people with dry mouth?”

I looked up and shrugged. “It was all they had.”

©2012, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
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  • Mama Bread Baker

    So funny and so true! And it’s the reason I shop at Aldi chains because they only sell their brand. Otherwise I’d need a Xanax just to grocery shop!

  • lostinsuburbiablog

    The good news is if you did need the xantax, at least you wouldn’t have to search for it on the shelves of the drug store! 🙂

  • Sharon

    You captured the experience so well. My family and friends wonder why I let my cupboards get empty before I go to the store. That’s so I can limit the number of stress attacks I have each month. Is there such a thing as too much choice?

    • Tracy Baron Beckerman

      Yes. Just look at the cereal aisle at the supermarket!

  • Susan in the Boonies

    Totally relate. For me, the go-to brand is Sensodyne from Costco…but when I ran out, and tried to pick up a tube at the grocery store, I was SHOCKED by the huge array of choices. It’s dizzying!

    • Tracy Baron Beckerman

      I think it’s a conspiracy by the toothpaste companies to drive us nuts!! Time to go back to the old days of making baking soda paste!

  • One Funny Motha

    Great post. Esp. love “What I didn’t realize was that at some point over the years while I had been buying in bulk, the toothpaste manufacturers had all lost their minds.” I can’t buy anything anymore. I get stressed out food shopping. Whenever I’m trying to buy something like, say, yogurt I stand there & stare at the 5,000 different kinds w/ probiotic & antibiotic & neuroticbiotic added & say “I just want yogurt.”

    • lostinsuburbiablog

      If you really want to have fun, stand in the drug store and try to figure out which yeast infection cream to get. Then try not to die when everyone around you comments on the advantages of 3 day over 7 day.

      • One Funny Motha

        No. No. It can’t be. I would definitely die.

      • Mandy Knight

        Sounds like the kind of discussion that leads into women bonding over child labor stories.

      • Tracy Baron Beckerman

        See, just another glorious thing men will never have the pleasure of experiencing!

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