Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I wish I had a purse


I just read a piece by Nora Ephron. It was titled, “I hate my purse”. In this piece she bemoans the fact that she must carry a purse just to have the things close by that she needs for everyday living. Actually, the way she describes it she has enough to outlast a minor siege.
Men, don’t carry purses. I’m not sure why. Maybe, it’s because we have to have both arms free to do the things that men have to do. I mean how could you fight off a mugger if you had one arm out of commission holding a purse. I suppose you could hit him with your purse, but that would sound bad when you told the story down at the pool hall, or while drinking beer with the guys. Who would want to be considered a purse hitter. Men simply would not do that. Maybe another reason for not carrying a purse is that it would hamper you when you needed to climb a tree to save a kitten, or climb a tower to rescue a damsel in distress. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a damsel, but I’m just saying. We go through life having to be prepared for all sorts of emergencies that would prevent us from carrying a purse. Some Italian men have worked this out. I think they just purposely avoid situations where they would be called on to use both hands. Well, real American men would never shirk their responsibility, and you never know what lurks around the corner.
I work sort of an inside outside job. Actually I own a construction management company that supervises the construction of sewage treatment plants, a noble job but a stinky one. I like to watch the look on peoples face when I tell them that I am in sewage then walk away with-out explaining. Most days I am in and out of an office trailer or an office building. And, during the winter I have to dress for the cold.
When it’s cold outside I wear a coat, then when it’s particularly cold I wear a vest along with the coat. Now consider this: I have four pockets in my pants, four pockets on the outside of my coat then two on the inside, two pockets in my vest, and two in my shirt, that makes fourteen pockets for me to carry the all the tools of my trade and weapons of manly responsibility.
With winter coming on I went into the attic to get out my winter clothing. I have a very good green Carhart coat and a matching vest, although it’s brown. Carhart makes a real mans’ coat. I mean this coat can not only keep out the cold, but when combined with a Carhart vest they can stop up to a .38 caliber bullet—I think. This is tough he-man clothing. If the pioneers would have had Carhart the west would have been settled fifty years sooner.
As I brought my Carhart armor down from the attic, I went through the pockets to see if I had any of the tools and weapons that I needed left over from last year. I found a number of vital things: in one pocket there was this gray furry hard thing that turned out to be a lemon ball. I want to keep this in case I need a sugar fix while at the plant. I also found a receipt for a custom pool cue that cost $800; I told Mary that I bought it used for $25, then told her when the credit card bill came that Meucci was a specialized testing firm, and I would have to bill it out. I don’t know how I’m going to pull this off, but I’m clever. Someday when she’s in a real good mood, I’ll laugh and tell her, “Boy, I got you on that one”, then hope she thinks I’m witty. That I have to destroy by fire; simply throwing it way will never do. I found a post-it telling me I had a doctor’s appointment that I missed: the doctor makes me pay whether I make it or not if I don’t cancel at least twenty-four hours in advance. No one pays me anything when they don’t show up, but, then, I don’t save lives I only build places to deal with their poop. I found several gas receipts that Mary had first asked me for, then demanded I give it her. I think I told her the machine was broken and wouldn’t give receipts. I found some gooey stuff that resembles something that came from the plant; some things are better left unknown. I’ll have to scrape it sometime this winter, and I have to remember that that pocket is out of commission. In a vest pocket I found a watch. I thought it cool one time to have a pocket watch with the fob hanging out then pulling out the watch, flipping open the lid, reading the time like they did in the cowboy movies. I don’t think it works anymore, but I’ll keep it anyway.
Women have to carry many more things than men do. For instance, men don’t need cosmetics, at least most men. None of us need to carry tampons, that’s for certain. We never carry tissues; that’s not a man item. We carry handkerchiefs, or at least we are supposed to. We are not allowed to carry the check book, and only a small amount of cash. If we get too much cash we tend to get in trouble. My kids help with the cash monitoring. I used to have cash in my pocket. I could pull out a knot and peal off some bills. Then I got children, and now I have no cash. We may be allowed to carry a credit card with strict instructions to keep every receipt and write down anything you buy on the phone or internet. No excuses. There is an implied death threat with this one.
Women have several rings, so they can organize their keys. They have a ring for their house keys, a ring for their car keys, and another ring for other keys that might have. Men just bunch everything up on one giant ring. Some as a badge of honor clip it to their belt so all can see that they are important people; they have the keys. On these outside rings men will carry a flashlight, a bottle opener, even though beer bottles have screw off caps, you never know, or even a Swiss army knife with twenty-five blades complete with magnifying glass. I would bet you they can’t tell you where all these keys go.
Women have to carry things for kids to play with while waiting in a restaurant, and many, many more items that are foreign to men. They keep this all well organized in the various compartments and purse pockets. There is never a time that I can’t ask Mary for something in her purse that she can’t direct me to the exact compartment and the position the thing holds. They can walk along the street with this hung over their like it is an appendage to their body. No matter the occasion they are ready. War, famine, pestilence, no matter bring it on.
Sometimes I think I do pretty well with my fourteen pockets, or thirteen with one temporarily out of commission. I only carry the things that I need to go about my day. I carry a Buck pocket knife big enough to skin a bear, again you never know. I have a cell phone that rings then hides in one of my pockets. I have to search frantically trying to find it before the answering thing takes over. I have one of those pocket computers that allows me to access the internet where I have every bit of the fund of human knowledge from the beginning of time at my finger tips. I never use this because I don’t know how to work the little software programs, and the battery is invariably discharged when I try. But, I carry it anyway; people think I’m a right up-to-date guy. Mary bought me this nice leather cover noted pad; it even has a pen in a little loop on the inside. My instructions were, “Write it down!” This was said with authority. I sometimes have trouble remembering things. It seems I forget more things that I used to. Oh, I can remember Connie’s phone number from the ninth grade, and I can remember Leslie’s grandfather’s amateur radio call sign, but I can’t remember the pin number for the bank. Some days I think I could hide my own Easter eggs.
When I stop for coffee early in the morning, I stuff any available pockets with goodies to get me through the day, and to sustain me if I am taken hostage by some crazed sewage robber. I really drink tea, but coffee sounds more manly.
Then I got a lap-top computer. This worked great. I could carry it with me and have all the plans, specs, e-mail and everything else right at my fingertips. But, it will not fit into any of my fourteen pockets. It doesn’t work for me to carry it in one of those padded cases designed to protect it and keep it handy. I tried this but I was always walking off and leaving it then spending the rest of the day backtracking trying to find it before it either got stolen, or knocked in a tank of you know what. I thought of getting a backpack. This seemed like a good Idea. But thought about how I would look like a Sherpa traipsing along looking for some mountain to climb.
The other day I bought one of those new ten inch lap-top computers. This is the thing—snazzy. It is small enough to carry around and big enough to be able to read things. This is the answer. But, it still will not fit into any of my pockets.
If I only had the nerve to carry one of those big purses that women have wrapped around their shoulders, I could stick my new computer in it. I could get myself organized and be able to find my cell phone when it rings. I could just stick my hand down in the designated pocket and get my pad when I need to write something down. This would be my shoulder office.
Now if I was to carry a purse, I wouldn’t want just any old purse. No, I want something like a Gucci bag, or at least a knock off Gucci bag. I want one of those designer bags that you see on television. If I’m going to do it, I want to do it in style.
And, if I do decide to start carrying a purse, I have to practice saying, “Yeah, that’s a purse. You wanna fight about it?”

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