Indecision was tearing through my core. I was standing in the home goods section of the department store, face to face with every shower curtain design known to mankind. I licked my lips and stared vacantly, unable to register the sheer amount of bathroom décor before my own eyes.
“We don’t have all day,” my mother told me. “Just pick one out so we can move on.”
If only it were so easy. You see, it was the summer before my freshman year of college. I had just found out that I was accepted in a living and learning community that resided in an on-campus apartment. This was good news; it meant that I would have my own bathroom, for one thing. But that detail in and of itself had a much darker side, one that was revealed through the hurricane of anxiety I was experiencing in the home goods aisle that fateful day.
You guessed it. I had to choose a shower curtain.
I was ill-prepared. On one hand, I knew that a shower curtain defines the entire theme of the bathroom, much like a quilt or comforter does in a bedroom. On the other hand, I hadn’t really considered this before agreeing to go to the store and pick one out, much less dedicate an entire Pinterest board to apartment bathroom style. And who knew how long I would be stuck with whatever I picked out? It could be my only shower curtain in graduate school, or for all of eternity.
“Anna, I’m tired of waiting.” My mother was growing impatient.
I needed to move, and fast. I couldn’t stand one more minute in the bathroom aisle. It felt like the shelves were closing in on me, inching closer to ensure my untimely demise. That’s when I saw it. The ducky shower curtain. Before I knew what I was doing, I yanked it off the wall and plopped it in the cart. It felt like my hands had suddenly developed a will of their own.
“The ducky one?” my mom asked.
“Yes.” I’d made my decision, and I was standing by it, goddammit.
“Okay,” my mom said, and shoved the cart before I could second-guess myself. She wanted out of that aisle as badly as I did. I’m grateful to report we made it out safely, as you likely guessed.
Now, whenever people come over to my apartment and use the bathroom, they always feel compelled to inquire about the duck-themed shower curtain. I’ve given varying responses in my failed efforts to explain, but I just can’t articulate why I made the choice I did. To better explain the ducky shower curtain phenomenon, I have invented a few competing theories.
I was rebelling against adulthood. All of our lives, we’re told to savor our time as children, where fun and games exist. Once you’re all grown up, it’s the bleak world of never-ending responsibilities until bitter death. I wanted a last hoorah. I wanted to prove that there was some surviving slice of little kid left inside that the world hadn’t scraped away. More than that. I wanted to flaunt it.
It was a matter of meaninglessness and statistics. As I stood in the aisle, I came upon the realization that life is inherently meaningless, because meaning is a construct invented by humans and only exists inside of our unexamined minds. As I stared at the rows of potential shower curtains encased in shiny plastic, their individual appeals faded away until I was left with apathy and sorrow. I reached for the one closest to me, determined that at least its functionality as a water shield would be practically useful to me during my long life devoid of meaning. The one I was most likely to take in order to expend the least amount of effort just so happened to be adorned with yellow aquatic birds.
The aisle was sentient and used its magical powers to persuade me to purchase the ducky shower curtain. Remember when I said I thought the aisle was closing in on me? Maybe it was. Maybe the ducky shower was the key to escape certain death, something I promptly forgot as I left the store and the aisle’s hold on me weakened.
I wanted to be a trend-setter. In a world where no one is quite alike, being exactly the same as someone else would actually be a special exception. But no matter. Too young to grasp paradoxes, I bought a ducky shower curtain to set myself apart from everyone else at college, in the naïve hopes that it would catch on, and I could say with pride that I was the first. So that I could be the special one. Just like everybody else.
I make awful decisions on the spot. The only decision I should be allowed to make without advanced notice is whether I want fries or not. (The answer is always yes.) I occasionally portray poor decision-making on demand. I agree to do too many favors for people, for example. Seriously, if Neil Armstrong asked me to go to the moon because he thought he might have left his shoe there, I’d probably agree. So it’s no wonder that I picked out the most juvenile shower curtain in human history.
But what about you? What shower curtain do you have? Is that an uncomfortable question? Let me know in the comments down below. Like this post and follow my blog if you blinked while reading this article. Or don’t. I’m not your mom or whatever.