The Middle Age Follies

A Slightly Skewed Look At Life

By And For Those Of Us On The North Side Of 50

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 Men have it easy. Admit it. Whether we’re preparing for a ten-day excursion to the most exotic of exotic locales, or a trip to the local hardware store, or doing any number of manly things in manly ways with our manly friends, one and only one item accompanies each and every sojourn: our wallet.

Uno – une wallet de money; a singularity; einz von billfold. Same color for every event; same wallet for every clothing ensemble; same for each and every one of our countless manly and not-so-manly forays into the wide world outside our homes. We give it no thought at all because … well, mostly because we tuck it away near our ass and well … really, that’s pretty much all I have to say.

For our wives, storage capacity and the various needs for same are an entirely different matter.

Would you mind getting _ for me? It’s in my purse.

Are there any inquiries from our wives which fill us with a greater sense of peril and dread than that one? Whatever “it” is that we’ve been commissioned to find, “it” will not be located until at least three separate murderous plots involving the demise of the purse has been fully-sketched out in our tiny husband-minds.

It is indeed an inexplicable source of wonder to men from the instant they open those magical containers. Of course, it’s duly noted that one does not just go over and open a purse as one customarily opens a refrigerator door. It’s not even comparable to the struggle to open modern-day suitcases, with the twelve separate zippers, each one opening a compartment which is not the one you need opened.

Purses are infinitely more diabolical. A simple clasp to unlatch the upper compartment? Yeah, right. Apparently fearing the sonic-speed expulsion of the two hundred and nineteen lipstick containers normally placed within that compartment for ease of access, the design features call for a bit more skill and aplomb (which is usually found in aisle 4 near the plungers, by the way).

If you, Mr. Husband, wish to open a purse for the first time, be forewarned. The maker, model, serial number, minimum and maximum square footage of space within … all matter little until Step One is first mastered. The requirements are now standard. One must possess the precision skills of a Swiss watchmaker and the cunning of a snow leopard, with the physical dexterity last seen in the person of Kato from the 1960s TV series The Green Lantern.

For those younger, fresh-faced and wide-eyed innocents just entering the marital relationship, beware! When the “get it from my purse” request is made, arm yourself with the full range of engineering and physics-based knowledge you’ve acquired to that moment. Add the necessary components of a commercial architect and the solid skills of a general contractor, and you might succeed. Own each of these skills and opening purses is usually no more than a 15 or 20 minute process.

A nice glass of wine should accompany you, of course. Its abilities to relax you in the most stressful of situations will be a godsend. Trust us.

A side note: given the amount of time it will surely take you to figure out how to: [1] open the purse (and know that each and every one of your wife’s two hundred and twenty-seven purses has its own unique means of opening so as to distinguish it from all others), [2] locate the requested _ in one of the astounding number of zippered pockets within other zippered compartments hidden in secret inserts both inside and outside (yes, the simple outward appearance of a purse hides many, many dark secrets), know that the message awaiting your triumphant return to your beloved will invariably be a version of this: “Never mind. I found what I needed in another purse.

Yes, young man, there is indeed and always, always, always another purse. Be thankful for each purse need your lovely wife chooses to handle on her own.

And know this, as well: the purse with its awesome ability to hold nearly a full aisle’s worth of Walmart toiletries and cosmetics yet rarely weigh more than the average thirty-one pounds has other menaces awaiting you. Storage capacity may be its defining feature, but other dangers lurk.

Do you think this purse matches my outfit?

The mind instantly reels! Does the purse match her outfit?! Do we manly men ask if the hammer matches our tool belts? Does the bowl of potato chips match the living room décor?

A tip to shorten the learning curve. Memorize this. “I love how you look in that outfit! The purse is a great accessory, of course, but I think almost any purse will complement what you’re wearing.

It rarely works, of course, but it’s your best shot at leaving the house within an hour. More often than not, however, your sincerest observation will generate this response.

Oh, I don’t know. I really want to take this purse, but there are a few other outfits that look better with this color pattern. Would you mind sitting and tell me what you think? I just  have a few outfits I’d like your opinion on.”

Refer to my Fashion Fail Safe post for tips on how to handle that.