Sunday, March 22, 2009

What's in your purse/suitcase?

by Helen Woodall

Recently, courtesy of a bunch of bushfires, I was looking at the possibility of having to evacuate my home with very little warning.

Now I admit I am weird. I own thousands of books and over two hundred ornamental frogs and I decided not to pack any of them. How could I choose just one or two? It would be like choosing one child. I ended up putting my passport and a clean pair of undies in my purse and making sure I was wearing shoes. Well, it is summer here and I usually go barefoot six months of the year.

I am the person who travelled around the world with three sets of clothes – one on, one in the wash and one tidy outfit. Yes, I already admitted I am weird.

So I get quite annoyed when reading a book where, whatever happens, the heroine drags the appropriate outfit or item from her purse/suitcase. A friend agreed with me and called it “a suitcase the depth of the Cayman Trench” syndrome. Her must-haves were passport/ID, money and tampons. Another friend is more the Boy Scout type. Her purse includes a roll of duct tape, a Leatherman multi-tool, meds, spare glasses, Sony reader/charger, cell phone/charger, small notepad and pen, a spool of waxed twelve cord (very strong string!) and a lighter.

Another friend commented, “Purse? What’s a purse? I tend to set those down and forget them in various public places. Wallet goes in one back pocket of the jeans, cell phone in the other. Front pocket has lip balm, a hair elastic, and occasionally a small stash of pain reliever. Keys go on a carabiner clip to the belt loop, with mini Swiss army knife. What more does one need? Oh, sunglasses on top of head.”

So, do you get annoyed when the heroine of the book is sitting on the beach in her bikini, and she is suddenly invited to a party and instantly pulls a sexy ballgown out of her suitcase? Or would there be one in your suitcase too?

24 comments:

Anny Cook said...

Nah... mine would more likely have a pair of shorts and a tee shirt!

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

I'll often toss in a gauzy skirt if it's summer--looks fairly dressy with a tank top, and is cool and easy to put on over sunburn. I own a dress...I think...not sure it fits...

Julia Barrett said...

Yup, very annoying. Real life is never so well planned out. I bring headache pills - number one, flip flops, favorite butt shaping jeans and my black tank, a toothbrush and of course ID - all the rest is optional.

Mona Risk said...

I would always have a velvet or silk blank pair of pants and a dressy knitted shirt. They don't wrinkle and look good with a nice necklace and dangling earrings.

Stace said...

I guess it depends on how willing you are to suspend disbelief. If it's a really good story you might have managed it already and therefore it works okay. Otherwise... Nope. It's just really annoying...

Angelia Sparrow said...

I'm guilty of treating fictional suitcases as Bags of Holding.

My own suitcase currently has: pads, toiletries, three pairs of dress shoes 2 pr of jeans, 1 pr slacks, 2 dressy tops and my wacky satin jacket, a black sparkly fancy dress, sheer knee highs, black thighhighs, black socks, hand-crocheted garters, chapbooks, a novel and my perfume case, plus 3 bottles of diet dr pepper and an apple.

I haven't unpacked from a three day SF convention...in my own CITY. I could be home and back in 2 hours, and I was less than 5 minutes from a walmart. You should see me try to travel any distance,

So, i tend to assume my characters will have anything the need packed, Unless not having such item is itself a plotpoint.

CatherineBerlin said...

I gotta say, I have the bottomless purse. Comes with having kids.

You could put me on that game show where the guy asks if anyone in the audience has a ?? and I would have it.

Off the top of my head, aside form the wallet stuff that's in there, I know there's a leatherman, hand sanitizer, a pen, a few crayons, tissues, and epi-pen, bandaids, hair ties, pepto bismol, migraine meds, kid tylenol, a greek coin with a phoenix on it, a squished penny form a railroad track, an empty ziploc bag, my phone... this could take days...

Amarinda Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amarinda Jones said...

Well, if I could fit into a bikini then hell yes I would have an evening gown in my bag. It's about as doable as the bikini

Desiree Holt said...

My heroine would have a large canvas sriped beach bag ad inside, in a large lastic baggy, is a crinkle material low cut black dress that folds up into a handkershief ut stretches out to cover the bare essebtial in an eye popping way. So we've got the dress, good for all occasions, what kills me is the bug gold clip thata she uses to pull hair that looks like it was blown away by a jet engine and tames it into a sexy, apealing, casual but sophisticated 'do' where every curl falls perfectly into place. Maybe with a carton of har spray it ight. Oh, and what's with the stick on fingernails she always carried, and the absolutely perfect pair of drop earrings? If I sat on a beah like that n=and mr gorgeous came along, I need therapy from three salons before even having coffee with him. LL!

Flick said...

I carry very strange things in my luggage so I accept the miraculous emergence of ball gowns etc! I was once stopped at a UK airport on route for the Channel Islands and had a severed hand in my bag. It was green, covered in blood and battery operated. Luckily the security guards had a good laugh about it. In fact they took it away and tricked one of their colleagues before they let me have it back.

Solange Ayre said...

I never go anywhere without six ballgowns so that I have a selection to choose from. I also need a separate suitcase for my jewelry - of course my maid is in charge of that.

Ulysses said...

I don't get invited to those kinds of parties.

Ava Rose Johnson said...

Handcream, water and sunglasses are my must-haves. A book too if I can squeeze it in. Definitely no room for ballgowns!

Mia Watts said...

Completely annoys me. No one packs perfectly even when prepared for a trip. Add surprise element and all is shot to hell.

Rachel Brady said...

I'm a bare bones packer also, but that's not the reason I'm commenting. I'm commenting just to say I really enjoyed this post! Very fun and entertaining.

Jennifer R. said...

Hilarious!
Now that I think of it, today my purse contained: an empty plastic grocery bag, a set of iPod speakers (not mine), another smaller, empty purse, and a set of bilingual sexual favors dice--I'm not lying.
There are very good explanations for all of these items.
Never doubt your heroines, people.
;)

Anonymous said...

Any New Yorkers in the group? I gotta know--
Buncha years ago, dinner in the Bull & Bear in the Waldorf. Casual my ass. I'm dressed to the nines. The locals are dressed to the sixteens and not a one of them is carrying a bag. Not so much as a clutch. And there was no where to hide anything in those sleek outfits. So tell me, how'd you get your dates to tuck your comb, your lipstick and your tampon in their suitcoat pockets?

Natalie Hatch said...

Helen I think every discerning heroine will have at least one to two taffeta wonders in her bag just in case! Plus she'll have designer shoes, a make up artist, a hair dresser and a body waxing specialist (no regrowth for our girl).
See that's why I don't sit on a beach in a tiny bikini, I just don't have a bag big enough to fit everyone in.

Fae said...

I always overpack for vacations or overnighters anywhere. I'm stereotypical girl that way, 4 suitcases for a weekend.

My purse, though, is not nearly so well-prepared. I have:

Wallet
makeup bag with all my essentials, which is a lot
rubberbands/hairclips etc
pens - usually out of ink
gum
a metric fuckton of spare change loose in the bottom
cigarettes and lighter
business cards
phone/address book
and tampons

That's it. No reading material, no notebooks, I always end up scribbling book ideas on the back of receipts and cursing my lack of paper.

Jamie said...

I almost always take a jersey cocktail dress or similar dress with me on vacation because I like to dress up and go somewhere nice at least once when I am out of town. I try to take an outfit for dressing up, a couple for going out and the rest casual. I like to be prepared.

My purse? Wallet, cell, gum, tissues, pain killers, tampons, lip balm, a small tube of hand cream and usually a pen or pencil.

Sir John said...

Knowing the problems women face, all I can say is there are times when it is great to be a guy. The fun comes in when the guy has to guess what the lady has with her.

Anonymous said...

I also am a complusive overpacker, so the ballgown does not strike me as that odd. As has been said, I might pack one -- IF I was willing to wear a bikini in public!

My purse is more of a surprise grab bag. I can almost always count on finding some ibuprofen and loose change, and I try to keep a pen or two in there, but otherwise... It's a safari. The result is that when anyone asks for anything, I look in my purse before answering. I have come up, on the spur of the moment, with: spare bootlaces, a scarf, food, needle-nose pliers, phillips screwdriver, and knee-highs.

But not, unfortunately, my proof of insurance while driving.

As a plot point, I would want the dress to be in character (it isn't for me, but for the protagonist?); also, NOT having a gown for the ball could be much more interesting.

Marianne Stephens said...

I admit it...I'm a suitcase packer addict. I take everything and end up using half of what I take. But there's this little voice inside my head that keeps telling me maybe I'll need this or that so into the suitcase it goes.
So, if there's a party to go to, I'll be ready!