Stage Three of Civilization


The history of every major Galactic Civilisation tends to pass through three distinct and recognisable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterised by the question "How can we eat?" the second by the question "Why do we eat?" and the third by the question "Where shall we have lunch?"
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Consider this situation. Let’s say that you decide to run a number of boring, tedious errands one weekend afternoon. Let’s say that you have a favorite companion to bring along on such expeditions for advice and entertainment. For the sake of simplification of the language during the remainder of this thought experiment, let’s call this person me. We set out on a fine Saturday or Sunday afternoon with the agreement that lunch will be had at some point during the pruning of the to-do list. So far, so good, right?

Let’s say that at some point you announce that, due to your overwhelming appetite, you believe that lunchtime has arrived. At this point, you then ask me where I’d like to eat. Usually, I reply with "wherever you like," since you’re the one with the ravenous appetite. One would think that you would then choose a suitable eatery and commence with the eating, is that not so?

There is one particular individual with whom I often repeat this situation. Almost without fail, my answer of "wherever you like" often seems to result in an hour of driving in circles before finally arriving at, say, a Taco Bell similar to but geographically distinct from the one near where the question was originally asked. Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, the conversation during that hour goes less like this…

"Where should we eat?"
"Wherever you like."
"You are just saying that to be polite."
"Wherever you like."
"Are you sure?"
"Wherever you like."
"Okay, then." Fifty five minutes elapse in silence. "Taco bell!"

… and more like this

"Where should we eat?"
"Wherever you like. Look, there’s a Taco Bell."
"Eww, I eat Taco Bell every day."
"And up there is a Weinerschnitzel, a Subway, a Wendy’s…"
"Nah."
"Then there’s a pancake house, a Chinese buffet, a Mexican restaurant…"
"Meh."
"Well, here’s another Taco Bell." Fifty five minutes elapse of my reading signs at the side of the road. "And there’s another Taco Bell–"
"Fine!"

I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to avoid this situation other than forcing the conversation to occur before we ever depart for the day. Has anybody else out there ever had this experience? What did you do?

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4 thoughts on “Stage Three of Civilization”

  1. In our husbandry, I am the forager. The other half could care less what I bring to the table; rat, cat, raccoon, aardvark. But when it comes to dining out, he maintains the same laissez faire towards the type of food but never takes my first suggestion.

  2. Whenever someone asks me where I want to eat, I immediately answer with whatever my first pick is and then think of a backup answer in case my companion isn’t interested in the first answer. If my companion isn’t interested in either of my suggestions, I would huffily ask why I was even consulted in the first place and then suggest we either go eat wherever s/he wants to eat or the nearest place that serves food.
    Luckily for me, this never happens… the people I eat lunch with all like the same places I do and generally agree readily to my first suggestion.
    I will say that when asked where I want to eat, I NEVER say, “Wherever you want.” Never. If you’re gonna ask me, you’re gonna get an answer for sure.

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