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Sparkling variety

All I needed was a tube of toothpaste.

Sure, I wanted to check out all the garden supplies, housewares, electronics and clothes the new Target has in its inventory. But to drive all the way from Breckenridge, I needed a valid reason. And my daughter’s half-full tube of toothpaste provided me with my excuse.

I ambled up and down the aisles, checking out the bright beach towels and rows upon rows of greeting cards before I stumbled upon the toothpaste aisle. I just about dropped my sugar-coated, styrofoam Peeps.



There was too much from which to choose! I hadn’t paid attention to what variety of toothpaste my daughter is using today. Brand, I knew. But variety? I didn’t know there were so many. I limited my choices to the rows of Crest.

There is extra-whitening Crest – and whitening Crest for people who want white teeth, but not extra-white teeth.



There is multicare Crest, Crest with Scope. Tartar protection, cavity protection, Rejuvenating Effects. Huh? There is paste and gel and gel with sparkles. There’s Crest with baking soda and peroxide. You can get toothpaste in a 6-ounce tube, a 4.2-ounce tube and a 4.6-ounce underarm deodorant container. Do not confuse these two items!

Can there really be this many differences? I just want to brush my teeth!

Feeling overwhelmed, I followed my friend to the makeup aisle.

Stimulation overload! There is anti-aging makeup. New Complexion. Line Minimizer and Visibly Firm. There are Moisturizing Makeups, skin smoothers, Clear Complexions, Flawless Finishes, Healthy Definition and Under Cover. And they’re all the same color.

What if you need Line Minimizer and Visibly Firm? Can you mix the two? If you mix Skin Smoother with Visibly Firm, will your face look like you took a flight in a military jet capable of flying Mach 5?

What if you mix Healthy Definition and Under Cover? Will anyone know? Can you tell?

I found myself staggering backward into the hair dye aisle. Crayola has nothing on Clairol.

Just in the “blond” section alone, I found Seashell Blond, Medium Ash, Lite Warm Topaz, Medium Neutral Blond, Starfish dark blond, True Gold and Champagne. My eyes glazed over a blur of shades that ranged from burgundy red to snow-white.

I staggered into the Band-Aid aisle.

When I was a kid and fell down and went crying to Mommy, a little wipe of a rag and a kiss on the boo-boo was enough to cure my woes – even if there was a bone sticking out. Apparently that’s not the case with today’s kids.

Wimps. All of them.

In this land of opportunities, they have choices. Thousands of them, just in the Band-Aid aisle alone.

There are your traditional plastic strips. And flexible fabrics. Comfort Fit. Water Block, Blister Block, Advanced Healing, Tough Strips, Antibiotic, Finger Care and Clear. That doesn’t include all the shapes and sizes. Large, medium, small, dots, knuckles, fingertips, earlobe patches.

Don’t forget Scooby Doo and Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Do they come in, say, grape?

Later, I found myself in the bottled water aisle, a section of the store I always found interesting, not for the product sold there, but for the people shopping for it. People bearing discount cards, AARP membership decals and season ski passes will dicker over saving two cents on their Kraft Macaroni and Cheese purchase but will fork out the equivalent of $6 a gallon – three times the cost of gasoline – for a bottle of water.

It is, of course, not just any water.

It’s Mountain Spring Water. Vitamin enhanced. Flavored, carbonated, clear, crystal, sparkling, natural spring water.

I’ll settle with tap. And a tube of extra-whitening, tartar protecting, glimmeringly sexy, breath-freshening toothpaste. With sparkles.

Jane Stebbins writes a minty-fresh column for this space every week.


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