© JoAnn Reno Wray
Many women suffer from purse overload. Me? You’d think I survived the Great Depression. I confess: I’ve officially crossed into obsession and carry everything in my purse. It now qualifies as a weight so I can use that as my excuse for avoiding other exercise.
That poor purse seems to carry my entire house and that’s only a slight exaggeration. I broke the strap on the handle – for the third time – the other night.
My husband, Roger, calls my purse the National Emergency Supply Tote (NEST, for short). He never worries about muggings. All I have to do is rare back and whack villains into next week with a swift swat. Any mugger would be out cold for ten days – minimum.
I’m a veritable walking pharmacy, ask anyone who has been at a conference with me. I carry a blue container labeled in large black letters, “Mom’s Drugs.” When my kids were teens, they’d slide under the table whenever I whipped out that blue box in public.
Need aspirin? Tylenol®? Ibuprofen? Sudephed®? Water Pills? Anti-Diarrheal Medication? Allergy Eye Drops or Lubricant eye drops? Nose spray? Hemorrhoid cream? Tums? Bandages? Antibacterial cream? Tissues? Vitamins? Epinephrine pens? Yes — all in my purse.
How about something to assist with clean up, personal grooming, or repairs? Check my purse. In it are: eye glass cleaner, wet wipes, baggies, sewing needles, six colors of thread, buttons, bobby pins, and safety pins. I also have scissors, spot cleaner, travel-size toilet paper, lotion, brush and comb. Just in case a need arises, I also pack a toothbrush, tooth paste, Emory boards, nail clippers, clear nail polish, and nail glue. After that inventory, I’m wondering, Did I buy this purse from Mary Poppins?
I’m not done. Do you need paper or an office supply item? Scotch tape? A calculator? Ruler? Tape Measure? Notepad? Sticky notes? Postage Stamps? Envelopes? Return address labels? A Glue Stick? Eight pens, three colored markers, pencils, an eraser, or a sharpener, if needed?
With all the above is found (but only after a long, deep search): two checkbooks, an address book, business cards and magnets, credit cards, driver’s license, medical insurance card, medical history card, coupons, and gift cards for restaurants and movies.
Of course, I wouldn’t be without “basic” supplies to maintain my big, gorgeous self. Thus a cosmetic bag with foundation, three lipsticks, lip gloss, face powder, blush, eyeshadow, mascara, mini-hair spray, perfume, lotion, comb, brush, mirror, and a few questionable items. (This means I’m not sure what they are, but can’t throw them out.)
Keys. Don’t forget those! (Although I often do.) Car keys, house keys, luggage keys, keys that unlock only God knows what, yet I worry if I pitch them, I’ll remember what the key is for, then something will forever be sealed. My husband has threatened to weld the keys to my body a result of him trekking long distances when I locked myself out of house or car.
Technology forced me to add a cell phone and instruction manual to the pack. No wonder my right shoulder hurts all the time and the strap keeps breaking! That purse isn’t that big, but it has stretched its horizons and bulked up considerably, weighing in at over nine pounds. Before ever stepping on the dreaded scale in at the doctor’s office, the first thing I do is plop that purse on the floor!
At times I peer into the depths of my purse, wondering if clowns will start climbing out. Other times, I’m sure items are multiplying in the depths, morphing into new exotic critters. I have discovered strange items. I have no idea what they are or even why they’re in there.
I made a vain attempt, but after forty plus years of carting this stuff around and, more often than not, finding a need for each item, there’s no deciding what to take and what to leave out. It’s easier hauling it all. Never fails. When I decide to leave something out, I find myself desperately needing it.
There is, of course, that universal problem: “Some contents may shift in transit.” This causes frequent, intensive excavations. I hate when that happens. Frankly, it’s embarrassing spreading everything from a one and a half cubic foot leather bag over ten square yards.
I’ve created my rock-solid, never-fail JoAnn’s Rules of the Purse. Remember them. It may save you a headache or two. Here they are:
Purse Rule #1: Whatever item you currently need will bury itself at the very bottom of the pocket you least likely expect it to be in.
Purse Rule #2: Picture it: Just before leaving the house, you decide you don’t need a particular item that night. You leave it on the bathroom counter. However, that little detail immediately goes the way of all brain bubbles. While in the restaurant, you spend twenty minutes emptying your purse in a search and destroy mission to find that item you know beyond all certainty is in there. This is followed by loud accusations aimed at one of your offspring or your husband that he/she filched the item in question. This leads to a required long-faced, repentant apology after arriving home where you find the item on the bathroom counter where you left it.
My kids think I am just trying to Mom the world. I’m not admitting anything, except perhaps I’ve just taken Paul’s writing to the Corinthians too literally: … I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. [ 1 Corinthians 9:22b, KJV ]
Besides — I need this stuff. Today when I broke my purse strap – yes, again — if I hadn’t packed my nail glue in my purse, I couldn’t have used it to do that instant repair on the strap. So there!
JoAnn Reno Wray
Broken Arrow, OK