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Analyze This, Part 6A: It's in the Bag


As part of my ongoing series, in which I talk about my daily routine and associated consumption habits, the all-important contents of my purse is the next topic. But first, a few general thoughts...

There are people out there who make a living crawling around in caves, collecting samples of bat guano and dinosaur poop. Not to take anything away from them, but the real Medal of Courage is reserved for anyone who dares to plumb the depths of such collection bottomless-pits as closets, junk drawers and bags. The latter includes suitcases, backpacks, duffels, and purses. Yeah, I saved that one for last, because as a woman, I've heard my share of derisive comments regarding purses in general and how they somehow illustrate how women's basic nature is somehow different from men's.

I doubt it has anything to do with “basic nature.” I think it's deeply ingrained, culturally. I have a couple of Australian friends* (technically, we're talking Facebook friends) and one of these days I'm going to query them on whether women in Australia are quite as prone to dragging bagsful of stuff around with them wherever they go.
I still don't quite understand why, if you randomly selected one woman walking on a city street and one man doing the same thing, you'd find the woman carrying so many more things.

It might not necessarily be that women “think they need more stuff” than men. That's the standard argument, but I'm not quite ready to buy it. I'm inclined to suspect it's just the existence of the bag itself that causes this phenomenon. Plenty of guys carry backpacks nowadays – briefcases, not so much. A backpack says something about being a regular guy who hasn't forgotten his school days, who's prepared like a Boy Scout, and has a very full and varied life.

A side topic is the fact that a guy can carry the same backpack every day for years, until it falls apart, but a woman under the influence of advertising and peer pressure believes she must have a bag that matches every pair of shoes she owns. And she must have a different pair of shoes to match by color and style all her different outfits. As I mentioned in an earlier chapter in this series, I worked for a few years in a place where my work attire was a company-issued shirt, faded and raggedy pants, random socks, and cheap athletic shoes. Same purses – one for summer, one for fall & winter. Never thought twice about it. Readjusting to corporate fashion has been my biggest challenge, albeit** not an unpleasant one. I am way behind, however, on the purse-and-shoe thing. Shoes are catching up nicely, but bag-shopping has been put's just too much.

Back to the backpack... If you were to excavate the average guy's backpack, I absolutely guarantee you would find a mess of jumbled and useless items equivalent to the contents of a woman's purse. It's all a matter of how busy a person is and how often they have a chance to clean the bag out.

What makes a bag messy? Easy – Receipts. I do make a habit of mucking out the tiny slips of paper on a semi-regular basis, because after awhile, they start to resemble cobwebs or dust-bunnies. My cat loves this, because if she's in the room, I'll crumple the receipt into a ball, flick it off my palm with a “Go get it!” and watch her take off after it. The sight of her little “kitten-britches” as she runs is beyond adorable. About half the time, if she really wants to play, she'll grab the paper ball in her mouth and bring it back to me. ...Okay, end of cute cat story. Back to the topic at hand.

Perhaps surprisingly, I find the next item most likely to contribute to bag clutter is pens. They accumulate too. You know how it grab a pen to scribble yourself a note. You're in a hurry, so once you write the note, you toss the note and the pen into your purse and take off. By the end of a typical month, you'll find at least half a dozen different pens in my purse.

Of course, there's other stuff in there as well, but those are necessities. And the necessities, more often than not, have brand names. So I'll get to those in the next installment.

Analyze This, part 1
Wow – footnotes!
*One of these women might be disqualified right from the start: She's been living in the US for sometime now and recently had a baby. I know she carries the standard-issue tote full of baby supplies. I don't think there's any way of getting around that. And since my new-mum days are nearly a quarter-century in the past and unlikely to recur unless I end up caring for a grandchild someday, it's not a topic that I feel any particular urgency to address at this time.

** Albeit is a 3-syllable word, pronounced “All-be-it.” It is not a German word, and is not pronounced “all-bite.” I once had a co-worker who was inordinately fond of this word but had no clue as to the pronunciation, and he is lucky I left the company before I had the opportunity to murder him. This has been a public-service announcement on behalf of the English language. The life you save may be your own.


The Urban Blabbermouth said…
It's coins that amaze me. They accumulate in the bottoms of women's bags turning the bags into leather kettle bells. I don't understand why women do not have super strong upper bodies.
Receipts and pens, you are absolutely right! You've obviously seen the inside of my purse.

It's a good thing I am only occasionally part of the corporate culture, because I use the same purse and shoes for everything!
Vol-E said…
Coins are funny for me -- I have a mini-piggy bank at home, and pennies always go in there. Can't use them in vending machines, so they're no use to me at work. Any other coins in my wallet go into a pill bottle in my desk drawer. Coins rarely stay at the bottom of my purse for any length of time. Any time I find one, it's like I hit the lottery.

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