Nora Ephron – Our Lady Saint of All Things Female and Funny – once observed the ever-present contents of her purse as “a mess of loose TicTacs, Advils, lipsticks without tops, little bits of tobacco even though there has been no smoking going on for at least ten years, tampons that have come loose from their wrappings, boarding passes from long-forgotten airplane trips, hotel keys from God-knows-what-hotel, leaky ballpoint pens, Kleenexes that either have or have not been used but there’s no way to be sure one way or another.”
This grab-bag of a description could probably fit for most every woman at some point. And I’m not trying to brag, but I think Ephron must have traveled into the future to peek at my purse circa 2011 whenever she wrote this.
Objects beware: if you enter the pits of my purse, you won’t likely leave unscathed. And sorry paper: you don’t stand a chance.
Handfuls of good lipsticks have been ruined, pristine resumes and business cards stained, dollar bills ripped, and dozens of other injustices enacted within the dark confines of my purse: A product of my own negligence for the one thing that is designed to keep all of my shit together.
And on more than a few occasions, my carry-all bag has acted as a public safety hazard: slapping innocent low-facing children on trains, causing sidewalk jams whenever it falls open, concealing dirty socks and other soiled garments which I’m sure could be considered weapons in some court, somewhere.
It’s not like I haven’t tried to clean it up. For most of my purse-toting years, I’ve fashioned numerous solutions to lower the rate of recidivism. Mostly, I’ve just bought more of them, experimenting with sizes and shapes and color (my mom would say, “Lighter fabric inside will help keep it organized“). Not surprisingly, I found that the bigger the purse, the more mess there’d be in just a few weeks. And contrary to what science might say, the more pockets there were for tucking precious things away, the more often they’d get lost. And that thing about color had no grounds in truth whatsoever.
My supposedly helpful purses have been responsible for countless burgled items I’ll never see again; damage to goods – both material and sentimental. It has scrunched and rustled unpredictably during movies and plays, which is to say, it has disturbed the peace; and it’s surely caused reckless endangerment to myself or someone else in times that required a sudden exit, when I’ve had to decide between my sanity during an awful first date or the mostly dispensable items sitting at the bag check 15 feet away. It’s a money launderer – but mostly a soiler, and has broken laws of open containers by knocking over initially upright bottles, making it literally impossible to lose the scent of the day I decided to bring Vera Wang’s Princess to Pilates because I didn’t want to smell like foam mat all day.
This list of crimes my purse has committed might be the strap that breaks the camel’s back (i.e. my shoulders). A few weeks ago, I headed to a fancy event sans purse or wallet. I dashed down streets and wedged into cramped city elevators, free and complete, even without the individual packets of Shout that I once mistook for hand sanitizer. More importantly, I no longer had to feel a victim of my own disorganization. Instead, that stays safely in my closet, where I can close the door anytime: out of sight and out of trouble.