Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Hey, Lady, Whatcha Got in Your Bag?"

So when I was in Connecticut last Tuesday, I had lunch with a group of friends that included Zoesmom and Becky (by the way, everyone needs to go leave a comment at Musings from the Sofa on Monday wishing Becky well on her first day at New Job with Major Publishing House in NYC). Anyway, they both indicated that they're waiting for my version of the "contents of my handbag" meme, despite the fact I shared everything in it with them. I explained that I'd recently had to buy a new bag, because the strap on my old one broke. It's a very nice, black (because it has to be due to my tendency to do such things as drop anything I might be carrying onto dirty train platforms/streets/restaurant floors, etc.), soft leather (because if I'm going to carry such a thing around with me all the time, it had better be tactilely pleasing), not huge, but not tiny bag with a nice long shoulder strap that has an adjustable buckle.

ZM and Becky immediately informed me that my problem is not that I try to carry too much, but that my purse is too small. Becky is the one, remember, who doesn't carry a bag unless it will hold a book. One of our other dining companions that day, who happens to be about the size of your average ring box, informed us that she won't carry a bag unless it will hold both a book and a magazine. I don't know how she does it; I can't imagine lugging around something that's bigger than I am (although she is awfully fit).

I still can't help thinking that I really must carry less. Since this was a new bag, before showing off its contents, I did happen to have taken out some of the truly unnecessary articles I found in my old bag (like about five extra pens and the ticket stub to the high school musical Bob and I went to see last month, and an empty mint box), but that doesn't seem to have done a whole lot of good, because the item count is still pushing 20:

1. Keys (more on them in a minute)
2. Change purse, which holds cash and change
3. Credit card holder (more on that in another minute)
4. comb
5. mini bottle of Excedrin, because I'm prone to headaches
6. contact lens re-wetting drops
7. sunglasses
8. bottle of hand lotion taken from some hotel (because I'm the former child who, due to her super dry skin, once asked her mother if she could possibly be related to alligators)
9. phone charger for my Blue Tooth (which I don't normally carry with me, but I do when I'm traveling long distance anywhere by car. Why, I don't know, because I hate the Blue Tooth, and if anyone wants to know why, just say so, please and I'll compose an entire post on it one of these days, which will also include information on why I hate ear buds)
10. cell phone
11. Blue Tooth (ditto the charger)
12. 2 feminine hygeine products
13. beautiful monogrammed silver business card case given to me as a going-away gift by my former boss when I left my old company, and which I always forget to refill with business cards (I don't care about such things, but I'm sure he'd want me to tell you it's Tiffany's)
14. an envelope with business receipts (added since Becky and ZM saw the contents of my bag)
15. a grocery store coupon that has expired and will be thrown away now, so it won't be going back into the bag when I'm done with this exercise
16. 2 pens
17. one mechanical pencil
18. Burt's Bee's lip shimmer (rhubarb), because I like the practicality of lip balm and lipstick all in one
Normally, I have mints, but I haven't bothered yet to replace my empty box with a new one

Now, let's talk about keys. They are quite obviously my biggest, heaviest objects. I blame it on Volkswagen, who makes a very cool car key that folds up into itself and would be fantastic (could even fit into those pracically non-existent pockets so fashionable on women's clothing) if it were the only key anyone ever had to carry. However, stick it on a key ring with other keys, and it becomes nothing but a huge, boxy nuisance that immediately increases the entire chain's weight by 110%. The key to the Prius isn't really much better, once you add its separate remote (we have the old-model Prius, not the one that starts with the push of a button as long as the key is somewhere on the premises). On my keychain, I also have one key to the manse (which could come off, because I don't need it, since our back door has a combination lock. But if I take it off, that will be the one day the combination doesn't work); a key to the house in Connecticut, which we are renting to others right now; a fob to the office; a key to the company apartment; and the key to my brother-in-law's house (also in CT). You may be asking, "Well, why does she have to carry all those keys around all the time?" The answer is that I don't happen to be fifteen anymore, and when given the number of things that accumulate in a brain throughout a lifetime of living, mine likes to remember such extraordinarily useful things as my first boyfriend's birthday rather than trivial matters such as the fact I'm arriving at the company apartment at 10:00 on a Sunday night and will need my key to get into it. I did decide, though, while perusing the contents of my pocketbook as I am, to take all my keys off the main chain, grouping them together on several rings with fewer numbers of keys on each, which makes my purse less bulky. We'll see how this works once I start using them again (right now, all I've been using is the hotel room key card).

And speaking of cards, let's take a look at the credit card holder. Wouldn't it be nice if all it held were my driver's licence and one credit card? But no, that would mean I lived a very simple life, which we all know I don't. Here's what my credit card holder contains:

driver's licence
personal credit card
company credit card
debit card
AAA card (which is about to expire, I see)
library card
BJs membership card (something I wouldn't have except it's one of our company's perques, so why not?)
health insurance card
dental insurance card
I also have a little laminated card made by someone at the office that has the cell phone numbers of all those at the company who have company cell phones (this comes in awfully handy when you arrive at the apartment after work hours to discover your key is bent and won't open the door and you need to call the office manager)
(Can you understand why I have a complete and utter fear of losing this very important little holder?)

So, there you have it. Is it so much or not? How do you women I see carrying around nothing but wallets manage to do it? What does everyone think I should weed out first?


Anne Camille said...

I did this the other day, categorizing my backpack/briefcase that goes with me everywhere, not my purse. Didn't think about the credit card holder -- wow! I just checked what is in mine. I started to list it but found it to embarrassing to admit I have all that (credit & debit cards, business cards, gift cards, hotel and business points cards, etc. etc). Suffice to say that I have a multiple of the number you have. Hardly puts me in an position to offer advice how to slim down your wallet.

As for the VW key -- I have same problem. Besides the fact that it is impossible to fit on most key rings, it is too heavy with more keys. The way to go is to keep it separate.

raych said...

You've no idea how reasonable that all sounds to me. Just to make you feel better about yourself, I'll be blogging the contents of my bag tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I hold to the position that you need a bigger bag. Just face up to the stuff that you carry around with you; it'll seem better when the bag it's in isn't bursting at the seams!

And the beauty of a larger bag is that one can put a smaller bag in it, for nipping out to lunch say (thereby pretending that one is, in fact, streamlined and minimalist).

ZoesMom said...

I concur with Becky. You need a larger bag. You don't carry around an unreasonable amount of stuff by any stretch, but wouldn't it be nicer if it wasn't all crammed into your bag and you happened to have room for a book or that other little thing you just purchased, whatever that may be, thereby eliminating the need to take a store bag?

The women you see with the small bags have a larger bag or briefcase or something else that holds all the rest of their stuff. Either that or they are wealthy enough to not need the car keys (the driver has them) or anything else except a cell phone because someone else will be taking care of it for them.

Oh, and I like that Burt's Bees lip stick too. Lip balm and lipstick in one is a pleasant efficiency.

Go for the bigger bag! :-)

litlove said...

I think the contents of your bag are pretty streamlined, actually. There's not much there that I would classify as detritus - it all has a purpose and might indeed be required on the move. This may encourage my theory that you write about yourself as a dizzier person than in fact you are. I think I'd like to have you nearby in a crisis!

Emily Barton said...

Cam, yes I read yours and found myself thinking at first, "Wow. Maybe I should just start carrying a backpack." But by the time I got to the end, I was thinking, "No, too much room for throwing in things that will disappear at the bottom never to be found again."

Raych, will have to go check out what you've got.

MFS, yes, but whenever I carry a bigger bag, everything just gets swallowed up. You don't want to witness me when I'm in a panic, convinced I've lost car keys/favorite pen/sunglasses, etc. (ask Bob). The only thing that might convince me is having room for a book or two.

AM, ahhhh, so THAT explains all those women who carry nothing but a tiny little wallet!

Litlove, actually, you're right, I'm quite good in true crises, using all my very matter-of-fact instincts. It's only all those IMAGINED crises when I flutter about like a chicken with my head cut off and make an embarrassing fool of myself.