Life Advice



Overwhelmed by Ice Cream

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I read your column every day, and I read with great interest the letter from the wife whose husband had an affair 20 years earlier. She was bitter that none of her friends told her about it.

I found myself in a similar situation, only I was the friend, and I DID tell her that her husband was cheating on her. This was 35 years ago.

Remember the old expression about killing the messenger? That's what happened to me. I had struggled with what to do with this information for several days. I knew she'd be devastated, but I believed she deserved the truth. She was my best friend, and I felt I'd be lying to her face every time I saw her if I didn't tell her.

I practiced for days trying to come up with the most supportive way of talking to her. I went and saw her, and we talked for about an hour, and it was very, very difficult. I left knowing that she had a lot to process and sort out, and I gave her some space. After a few days, I called but could not reach her. I left messages, but I never heard back from her.

Fifteen years later, I got a rather incoherent and angry letter from her, blaming me -- for what, specifically, wasn't clear.

The wife who wrote to you complaining that no one told her might have reacted differently 20 years ago if someone had let her know. If I had had a crystal ball and known our friendship would be over if I told her, would I still have told my friend at the time? I think so. I still believe hiding it from her would have been worse, a betrayal. -- Killed Messenger in Pennsylvania

Dear Killed Messenger: Thank you for your letter. I suppose it was easier to get mad at you than her husband who had betrayed her. Just know that her meanness came out of pain and that hurt people hurt people.

Dear Annie: Why do Americans have so many ice cream products?

This week, I went to the supermarket, and there were 10 new ice creams to choose from, and I was just about to finish off trying them all from the prior week. I'm not fat -- yet.

Yes, even with the problems of supply, they somehow still manage to pack the refrigerators with new choices. I find myself spending at least five to 10 minutes trying to choose an ice cream that is healthy, economical and tastes good.


In my country, we have fewer ice cream choices, but they all taste good. Should I check myself to see if I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, or should I be concerned that we indeed have too many choices in America?

Another crazy complaint, if I may: I recently found out that a famous ice cream brand with a European label is not actually European. The first time I found this product, I happily told the clerk, who often sees me hanging around the ice cream aisle, that I had found a European ice cream.

He didn't seem surprised but actually looked concerned. I felt like an idiot after I found out it's made by an American corporation. No wonder he looked concerned.

So, this has been my problem, and I need a solution. Maybe you can help? -- Too Many Choices

Dear Choices: Isn't America great? The complaint in many countries is that there aren't enough choices, while your concern about this country is that we have too many choices of ice cream. That's a sweet thought.

In all seriousness, you bring up a good point that too many choices can actually be detrimental to your well-being. Psychology professor Barry Schwartz argues that having an infinite number of choices can be exhausting. We can set unrealistic expectations and then think we might have made the wrong choice.

Next time you go to the supermarket, make up your mind on the flavor you want before you enter, and don't let all the choices seduce you into swaying.


"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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