Super-sized purses create big problems

Sunday, February 27, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:07 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

I’ve written before about the various differences between the two sexes. Women have much more of the burden to bear throughout life. One of the many examples that life is lopsided is the age-old tradition of the woman carrying a purse.

I watched my husband get ready for work this morning — such a simple ritual. He buttons his shirt, zips up his pants and then places his “necessities” into his pockets. His billfold goes in his back left pocket. A nail clipper and tiny pocket knife (for warding off any attackers) go into one side pocket; the other is reserved for loose change and paper money. That’s it!

I, on the other hand, have to carry a purse. The reason is two-fold. First, most of my clothes don’t have pockets; the ones that do can’t be stuffed because that would add extra bulk to an already bulky body. Second, and more important, I have to have several items handy to survive the day.

I dumped out my purse on the kitchen table to peruse the items within. Possibly there were some things I could remove. My billfold is far larger than my husband’s. Though it’s much more stylish than his flat-black fold-over, I realized that it was not only three times larger but contained the same items.

I have another mini billfold for my credit cards. There’s the plastic see-through envelope for coupons and receipts.I have another little bag for my makeup, hand mirror and hair brush. I have to keep my notepad on hand to make lists. And I always throw in three or four pens — you never know when one will run out of ink. I have a sewing kit for emergency repairs (I did use the teeny safety pin once).

And then there’s the address and phone book I absolutely need in case I want to call a friend on my cell phone, which is also a must-have. I have a small magnifying glass for reading fine print on items when grocery shopping. There is a tiny measuring tape in case I need to know the exact size of something.

I used to have a small pair of scissors, but they were confiscated at the airport (yet another reason why I hate to fly). And then, of course, I have to put in my bad habit, accompanying two lighters and a couple of books of matches. I always carry a pair of regular glasses and a pair of sunglasses — each with their own case. I never put them in their case, but at least they’re there if I decide to stop scratching the lens. I have a cute little pill box filled with capsules. And two tubes of lip moisturizer — one plain and one medicated.

Finally, now that I’m the proud owner of braces (I was told not to say another negative thing about my husband’s profession), I also have to carry my rubber bands, wax and a travel toothbrush.

My husband has one billfold, not several in various colors. He carries it until I’m embarrassed for him to show it in public. That’s when I buy him another one. I made the mistake once and bought a tri-fold in brown. It’s still in his socks drawer.

I have dozens of purses in several colors. I have summer and winter bags — a concept my husband can’t seem to grasp. I subdivide them into casual, professional and dress-up. I used to match my bag with my shoes, but that went out with wearing hats and white gloves.

I have big bags that will hold about anything I want to carry, but there are problems with spacious purses. I stuff so much into them that it takes a forklift to pick them up. I pinched a nerve in my shoulder after carrying one of my super-sized bags for a month. With big purses it seems, after I drop an item in, it falls into a black hole; I’m forever stirring the contents in hopes of finding my keys. No matter how big the bag is, I can’t ever close the darn thing. There’s always one more thing to add until it’s overflowing.

I have a collection of medium-sized purses. I occasionally decide to downsize and switch to one of these. But within a week I dump everything back into the bigger bag because, invariably, something I left out I needed.

I also have several evening bags that are collecting dust. Although these purses are really cute, the designers must figure that a couple of tissues and a tube of lipstick is all a gal needs for a great night out.

If you have a comment or know of a good purse organizer, please e-mail me at

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