Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Helen on ... What's in Your Purse?

The other day, I was out to lunch with a friend and clumsy me dropped her purse on the restaurant floor. My big ole bag tipped over and everything, and I do mean everything, spilled out and rolled this way and that. Lip balm, make-up, gum, chewed and discarded gum enclosed in old wrappers, an old Tylenol bottle, used and balled up tissue, the spare change I was too lazy to put in the zipper part of my wallet, pens, pencils, and an array of other stuff, and, oh yeah, tampons generally flew to the four corners of the deli.

We women carry our lives around in our purses. I was laid bare, naked for the whole world to see. Well, okay, the restaurant patrons anyway.

So after blushing ten, maybe even eleven, shades of red, and apologizing profusely, I picked up everything with help from my friend and the hostess and tossed it all back into my bag to deal with later. Although there was nothing on the floor of which to be particularly embarrassed, I couldn’t help but think about other days, days I’ve carried some relatively embarrassing things in my purse. Like ...

Birth control pills
A beer (don’t ask)
Cigarettes (when as far as the rest of the world was concerned I wasn’t a smoker)
Thong underwear


It’s true. A thong. In my purse. Pretty sexy one too. Orange and pink lacy thing. Not mine.

I was dropping my daughter off at a girlfriend’s house and she came running back outside and handed me a pair of her thongs with the order, “Put this in your purse.” Believe it or not, they’d gotten stuck to the inside of this friend’s sweatshirt, which I’d laundered the week before.

Of all the crazy things. What if I’d dropped my purse that day? Or on the day I was carrying around two doggy biscuits? No, I do not have curious snacking habits. The nice teller at the bank drive-up window just happened to send out too many treats for my pooches, and I forgotten I’d stashed them away.

So what’s in your purse today? What does it say, or not say about you? What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever carried in your purse? What’s the funniest or most embarrassing thing you’ve ever seen in someone else’s purse?

It’s my contest day, celebrating the release of DAD FOR LIFE, my June Harlequin Superromance. One randomly selected commenter will receive a copy of my new book along with this pretty beaded book mark.

I'll announce the winner right here tomorrow!

And the winner is ... Bethre! Email me at helenbrenna@comcast.net with your address and I'll mail out your book and bookmark. Thanks everyone for tuning in!


Cindy Gerard said...

First - Congrats, Helen on the release of DAD FOR LIFE which just happens to be a Romantic Times Top Pick!! Gooooo Helen.

As to the purse - do we really have to go there? I was once in a NYC restaurant with my agent. I was excited, distracted and when my cell phone rang and I had to dig around in that bottomless pit to retrieve it, I also dragged out a pair of shoes, which, nit-wit that I was, I promptly plopped on the table along with the rest of the debris I'd found in the depths. "And for your main course, madam, can I show you something in a beat up fillet of leather sole?"
Geech. Talk about embarrassing.
"Duh, well, yeah. I DID just fall off the turnip truck."
Let that be a warning to the Topdown crew. When we meet in Dallas at RWA for breakfast - heads up people. Cindy's got a brand new (and full) bag.

BethRe said...

My bra in my purse. I hate wearing bra's and the first chance I get I take them off. Well I stuffed it in my purse went to the grocery store and guess what had to come out for me to find my debit card to pay? you guess it the bra

Helen Brenna said...

Ah, Cindy, shoes in the purse. That's one I've never managed! But a bra, Beth, been there, done that one too!

Michele Hauf said...

Hmm, my purse is basically empty. Nothing embarrassing. In fact, I'm always looking to downsize. Checkbook, a few bookmarks, a notepad, credit card and the requisite tampons.

So what does that dull, boring purse say about moi?

I've never had a purse spill, but I do delight in making The Hubby hold it for me when I need to do something or have to dig for my keys in a pocket.


Debra Dixon said...

My purse is about the size of a thick paperback book. I've had to learn to downsize because I travel and don't want the purse to count as a carry on so it has to go in the briefcase.

So, I have a chapstick, tiny wallet for credit cards/license only, and money.

I can put my cell phone in there if I have to. When I'm not traveling, my keys clip to the outside of it.

There are some aspirin in the change zipper. And a baby-tiny tin of dental floss.

It took years to winnow my purse down to something like this. I don't carry a checkbook. No makeup unless I purposely toss in a lipstick which I do occasionally.

lois greiman said...

I generally like to keep lifesavers stuck to my spare change at the bottom of my purse. It's what I do. But yeah, bras...it's really surprising how often there's a bra in my purse, or my pocket. And it's often not mine either.

It's fun having teenage daughters huh, Helen?

I remember opening up the glove compartment in our old truck when I was with a boyfriend on the farm. There was a bra there front and center. Wasn't mine. Had three sisters. I'd like to say that would no longer be embarrassing, but it probably would.

Michele Hauf said...

Deb, I am envious of your paperback-size purse!


Virginia Lady said...

I swing between carrying too much stuff and having very little. I try to have very little, but with three kids and a husband, it doesn't always work out.

My worst times are on trips with the family, then I have a whole pharmacy to deal with everyone's allergies and such. It's really a bit strange. Though I've been known to have snacks, mints, assorted toys and lollipops, and of course, some section of a story that I'm writing...now those are some odd things to read since it's somewhere in the middle of a story.

I've had the condom, but the bra thing, no. But it does bring to mind an accident I had when I 18. Totaled the car, but I was ok, but it had been a long trip and the bra was anooying me, so I took it off...there it was hanging in the car I had flipped. Terribly embarrasing later on when I wasn't in shock.

I really need to eliminate the purse from my life, but then I see a new one and I just HAVE to buy it!

Helen Brenna said...

My dh hates holding my purse too, Michele. Maybe I should take a cue from you and start delighting in that.

I have to admit I have Deb-envy too.

And, yes, Lois, daughters are a kick, but it's my gum that usually sticks to the change in my purse. yuck either way.

Virginia lady brings up a good point. Why is it we end up being the family pack animal? My dh has even turned to me in the airport and asked if his fanny pack would fit in my carryon. Hmmm.

Keri Ford said...

my purse is currently doubling as a diaper bag...so yeah I'm a pack mule. esp. when the DH hands something of his to stash in there. Nationals will be wonderful cause I won't have to dig through baby stuff for my wallet.

No bras, condoms, panties in my purse. somehow, it often becomes a trash can which makes digging for keys difficult

Helen Brenna said...

Diaper bags! Don't even start me on that one.

Diane in Syracuse said...

I have now made myself a couple of purses (pattern "Gracie", I think, by LazyGirl, but with calmer fabric choices) that have 6 pockets. They are not otherwise large, so I try to keep things in them tidy. What I've done is stuck all the little non-pocket things (tampons, mints, lipstick, whatever), in one of the 97 zipper bags I've gotten as a Clinique bonus. I also do this (with SEVERAL little bags - toiletries, snacks, etc. ) when traveling, because otherwise, whatever I want can only be accessed by completely emptying my carryon.

Which is not to say that the occasional wrapper and LOTS of receipts don't end up cluttering the purse, but it does reduce the embarrassing spillage possibilities.

As for the pockets: sunglasses, wallet, PDA, cell phone, handkerchiefs and keys (I have a big flat keychain that tucks in nicely). And sometimes there's an umbrella or some garden clippers, because, well. um. yeah. life.

Betina Krahn said...

Okay, I have on occasion had a wrench in my purse. I honestly can't remember why, but I remember thinking it was really necessary. I used to carry a Leatherman tool everywhere. Those danged things are heavy and I finally gave it up. Small flashlight, Tylenol, 47 pens, and receipts from the stone age.

The tools thing probably all started when I was about 6 years old. . . my dad was talking to some other guy about something that was loose on the car and said if he had a screwdriver he'd take care of it in a flash. I opened up my little pretend purse and handed him his favorite screwdriver. He was flabbergasted and his friend had a big laugh. That was probably the start of my wanting to make people laugh. . . and carrying tools in my handbag.

I have been known to smuggle contraband candy or diet popcorn into a movie theater in my purse. . . but never booze. A girl has to have some standards.

Helen Brenna said...

The thing is, Diane, using a smaller purse inside a bigger purse means you have to be organized. Something of which I'm also envious!

Cute screwdriver story, Betina, and as for movie theaters - I'm always smuggling in my bottle of water. Never thought of booze. LOL

Kathleen Eagle said...

Virginia lady, you just proved my mother's (also a Virginia lady) oft repeated point that a lady must be ever mindful of the state of one's undergarments in case she gets into a car accident. Embarrassment lurks beyond every sharp turn. My thoughts after after a near-miss go something like: I could have been killed. Thank God for clean underwear!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Oh, but that wasn't the question, was it. One of the great things about menopause is no tampons in the purse. I'm always spilling out the contents, and the tampon was always the first to roll. I had a little tampon case for a while, but it looked like a tampon case. And I always forgot to put the tampon in the case. I used the tampon falling out of the purse in a book once. The scene involved a cop as I remember.

Betina, I've been known to go to the movie packin' candy. I try to look casual when I go through the line. "They can tell," I'm thinking. "It's written all over my face. They're going to strip search me. Thank God for clean underwear!"

Kaitlin said...

Ah, the "What's in your purse" question. I love these. :D I actually carry a bag that I got on my last trip to the beach. It's black with cherries all over it.

Inside are (in no particular order):

My wallet
3 writing notebooks (because I never know when inspiration will strike)
my perfume
lip gloss (like 7 different kinds)
allergy pills
pictures of my family & my boyfriend
lots and lots of pens
Printed out copies of my latest story idea

I know, I'm a writer. What can I tell you? :D

byrdloves2read said...

I stopped carrying a purse 20 years ago. Of course, everything I own now has pockets sooooo in my pockets I carry a little wallet with driver's license, credit card, library card and a $20, lip balm and cell phone. If I'm going to be anywhere that might involve waiting, I carry a book. That's it.

Now my mother carries a purse that weighs 20 pounds, I swear. Drives me crazy. LOL

Christie Ridgway said...

I have something like four purses in the works right now. A bag I take to the gym, one I take to the store, one I've been carrying to various "fancier" functions recently.

But I'll tell you what I keep finding in the bottom of my purses...maps of theme parks. Disneyland. SeaWorld. Universal Studios. We took my dad to see the U.S.S. Midway on Saturday and I predict the map for it will be in my purse for next five years. Don't know why I don't just throw them out.

Helen Brenna said...

OMG, Kathy, I can just see you sneaking into a theater with candy smuggled into your purse. LOL! I'm gonna chuckle about that one for days.

Wow, Kaitlin, you ARE a writer. Go, girl!!

Okay, now I have Byrd envy! You are amazing.

Oh, I hate that, Christie. I end up with all those old brochures and stuff too. Oh, oh, oh! And old COUPONS.

Lover of Books said...

My purse right now holds my wallet with numerous things, a maxi pad, my pda, my cell phone, a packet of klennex,keys, a pad and a pen. Oh and my work name tag. :) I am always ready to write something down as well as have to keep things handy for a big mess. :)

The most embarressing thing I ever had to carry around was the box for my engagement ring and my chastity ring. The reason being was that when my hubby and I first got engaged, we were keeping it pretty much a secret to his family only cause he wanted to surprise them. So I had to be ready at a moments notice to switch them. I almost got caught one time. lol

Lover of Books said...

Okay I meant funniest thing I ever had to carry. Man am I tired. lol

Laurie said...

My purse also has a little bit of everything... the weirdest thing in it was a paint can opener(metal prong on one end) from when we painted a rental property a few years ago. I also have a small calculator, my hair brush, pens galore, a small ruler?, various sized screws -my husband wanted from the hardware store, a scizzors, scotch tape, a bottle top opener, a paperback book, and tylenol(can't leave home without it). Seems like I'm still prepared to go back to college!

Never really check out other people's purses. My Mom,who's 83 won't leave home without her tube of BRIGHT RED lipstick.

Helen Brenna said...

Lover of books, you had me going trying to figure out the chastity ring thing. I must be tired!

Hi to you too, Laurie. With your screws and paint can openers, you sound like Betina!

It's so interested the different stuff people think of as essentials.

FIONA said...

I just treated myself to a new purse, from a very nice store.

I picked out a cute little bag. The very helpful salesperson said,"Some ladies like to try their things in a bag before buying it, to make sure it is the right bag for you."

This is code for,"You are carrying a MOM BAG, and all of your stuff will never fit in that cute little bag."

She was right, I had to go up two sizes to make it all fit! :-) I still love my new bag.

FIONA said...

The only embarassing thing in my bag at that time was my son's comic book,

At the airport, though, it is another story!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Fiona, what a cool salesperson!

I'll fill up whatever size bag I'm carrying. The trick for me is to figure out what I really need to carry at all times and get the bag that holds that stuff and no more. Otherwise I can't find anything. The bag I'm using has served me well for over a year, which means it's the right size. When I realize I'm digging around and not finding what I want, I know it's time to clean out the bag.

I only do one bag at a time, so it has to be neutral. This one's a black Coach. Worth the cost--best looking, sturdiest bag I've ever had. I'll do an evening bag when the occasion calls for it (once, twice a year?) but otherwise, one bag. Oh, and I tried the wallet on a string when they were in style, but I couldn't get away with it. I need sunglasses and regular glasses.

I'm on the lookout now for the perfect wallet. Or billfold. Are you a wallet or a billfold person? Purse, handbag, or pocketbook?

Helen Brenna said...

Fiona, that does seem to be a smart thing to do, try your stuff on in the purse. I often pick too small purses. Wishful thinking, I guess.

Kathy, I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect wallet. But if you find one, let me know!