We had a family crisis. I was the point person for information dissemination. I carried my cellphone in my purse.
In my purse also was my monthly calendar, my wallet, my mother’s wallet (because it was a family crisis), my sunglasses, my packet of Kleenex, my collapsible umbrella (because it was a rare interval of rain in our drought), my contact-lens emergency kit (cleaning solution, wetting solution, case), my prescription glasses with clip-on sunglasses (in case my contact-lens emergency kit did not do the job), assorted receipts for charge card and ATM transactions, my car keys, my lipstick and other sundries too intimate to mention.
My husband had the temerity to complain: “I call you on your cellphone, and you don’t answer. Sometimes you call me back just a minute later, but I’m already driving by then. Why don’t you keep your phone somewhere more accessible, like in your pocket? So you can get at it when I call you?”
I totally lost it. I melted down. (I had been dealing with a family crisis.) I started to scream. And what did I scream?
I’M A WOMAN! WOMEN DON’T HAVE POCKETS!
I had voiced a visceral resentment. Freud talked about women envying certain masculine parts; as far as I am concerned, he missed the mark entirely. What I suffer from is pocket envy.
Women’s blouses do not come with chest pockets where one might tuck a cellphone. (Women should be curvilinear; cellphones are not.) Women’s pants do not come with hip pockets (God forbid anything should add to the dimensions of one’s hips.)
My smartphone lets me know the location of the nearest pizza parlor, tells me how to get to my granddaughter’s graduation, relays the latest sports scores and shows me my son in action as an auctioneer on YouTube. But it does not fit into the abbreviated slots that fill the places one used to call “pockets” in today’s low-rider jeans. (I feel very lucky that I can fit into today’s low-rider jeans at all, much less with my smartphone.)
Hence the purse – an inadequate pocket substitute born of pocket envy. There are times when my husband appreciates my purse. When he wants to bring a bottle of water into a venue where BYOB is prohibited. When he needs a place to stash his sunglasses, binoculars or concert tickets. When he has a scarf, a visor cap or a pair of gloves that are not needed yet but might be needed later. Sometimes I feel like a beast of burden, conveniently equipped with a carry bag for my husband’s miscellaneous stuff so that he can swing along hands-free. I usually don’t resent this, because I have a lot of my own stuff (see above). But now and then it gets to me – why is it always me carrying the fanny pack or the shoulder bag?
And when my husband complained that I was slow to locate my communication device in the welter of other useful things I tote – I lost it. I screamed. Do you blame me?