You know the game. You get a list of items to look for in your purse, and the one with the most items wins. It’s an ice breaker played at wedding and baby showers.
Women scrounge around in their purses, rooting out long lost items, like so much buried treasure. Contents get dumped as they try to get to the bottom of their bottomless bags, unearthing lint covered cherry cough drops, petrified chewing gum, crumpled receipts from last Christmas, and inkless pens.
My sister hosted this game at my wedding shower. In those days my purse was just big enough for a square wallet, keys, a small comb, and lip balm. Some days I skipped the wallet altogether and just took my ID and a credit card.
Needless to say I lost this game by a long shot. I always lose this game. I don’t remember who won that day, but if my sister had played she would have won. She always wins this game, unless my friend Jackie also happens to be in the crowd. In that case, it’s a toss up.
When Jackie asks me to hand her her purse, I need a crane. She realizes it’s a problem and has been trying to pare down. One day she proudly announced she had reduced the size of her purse by a third. However, since she only managed to eliminate one or two items from her previous purse, she couldn’t actually get to anything in this new purse without first emptying it.
Over the years, my bags have gotten significantly larger. I don’t know what it is that draws me to bags large enough to fit a cantaloupe or two. In the baby years my purse was a diaper bag, and maybe I just got used to it. The stuff I keep in my purse is about the same.
Unfortunately, the larger the bag, the less excuse I have for not carrying other people’s stuff — especially since mine is largely unoccupied. By other people, I mean the male members of my family who hand me programs, pamphlets, maps, and any paraphernalia too cumbersome for their pockets.
(To be fair, Pete will carry my water bottle, even if he isn’t wearing cargo shorts. This is a more than equitable trade off, if only in terms of weight).
Some of the stuff in a woman’s purse is unintentional: expired coupons, gum wadded up in a torn scrap of paper, eye pencil without a point, unidentified plastic ring. Even this is telling. In fact, the percentage of unintentional items might speak volumes. Where did these things come from? Why are they still there?
What you carry in your purse reveals something about yourself. My sister believes in being prepared. In addition to nuts, mints, flashlight, and pocket knife, she carries an arsenal of sanitizers in the form of spray, liquids, and wipes.
Her keychain sports enough keys to rival a janitor’s collection. Two items dangling from her keychain deserve special mention:
The first looks like a small, inflatable pillow, but it’s actually a CPR face mask. Simply lay the mask over the person’s face before administering CPR. Voila! Germ free rescue. (If you’re wondering what ingenious company makes these or if you think I must be making this up, google Laerdal).
The second looks like a medieval torture device or a pen with spikes. Officially known as a ninja kubotan, it will transform your ordinary fist into Wolverine’s. Attackers beware. Did I mention that it weighs about a pound? Okay, I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.
The only thing my sister might not be prepared for is a zombie apocalypse — which, by the way, has my nephew Keenan very concerned. He has inherited her preparedness gene. With the contents of his pockets, he would be a formidable player in the purse game. But I digress.
I did not inherit the preparedness gene. I tend to believe if I truly need something I’ll have it somehow — in my purse, in my home, and in life. I don’t keep a lot of extra stuff. To me it’s just more things to sort and maintain. It gets in the way.
It’s funny, because I consider myself high maintenance. Pete (and anyone else in the know) would heartily agree. But I can’t really think of a time when I didn’t have something on hand that I desperately needed. I’m sure it’s probably happened, but I can’t remember. I got what I needed or did without. Either way, it was fine.
It’s not worth lugging around a cartload of stuff just in case. Besides, if I do need something, chances are there will be some kind soul, like my sister, nearby who will have it in her purse.
What are the must have items in your purse?