Tip #47: Never enter a woman’s handbag

Written by: Charlotte

Behind every successful woman is a catastrophe of a handbag. Perhaps the bag is a tote, a backpack, one of those messenger bags that athletic women who ride bikes even when it’s freezing cold wear — no matter what form it takes, open the bag, and it’s all the same. At any given time, the inside of a woman’s handbag looks like an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive. In my experience, there are three sections to the handbag that I will list in order of neatness: the side and/or front pockets, that larger zipper pocket that all women’s bags have, and the open pit in the middle. Each of these sections is more disgusting and unreasonable than the previous one. I’ll explain.

  1. Side/front pockets a.k.a. presentable chaos

Logically, women put their most needed items in the most reachable places. My bag has two little pockets side-by-side on a wall of my bag. These are filled with pens and lipstick. The pen section has 95 pens stuffed in there and only about 30% of them work. I keep the dead ones around, though, because I wrote so many great notes with them, we had so many memorable times, and also I am crazy. Why throw out a perfectly good pen with no ink in it when you could easily buy more ink for it just like you’ve never done in your entire life? Then, of course, mingling adjacent to the pen graveyard are at least 6 tubes of lipstick that are all basically the same color. Each resembles a different trip to the drugstore or Sephora when you swore you were going to become a lipstick person and this one lipstick was going to change everything. And yet, every day you reach for the same chapstick that has been through the dryer at least twice.

  1. Zipper pocket a.k.a. the welcome wagon to Crazy Town, USA

The zipper pocket has a special place in every woman’s heart because she can keep 2,000 tampons in there, separate from the rest of the chaos, and not have to worry about accidentally flinging a Super at an innocent young boy on the train when she was just trying to get her headphones out. And you know what tampons are really good at? Yes, that, but they’re also good for hiding smaller things that you think are important to save but forget about immediately upon dispensing into the zipper pocket. Very recently, I discovered in my bag’s zipper pocket (among other things) a book light that was broken in half (but I had to keep just in case I decided to fix it), a melted cough drop (because it was still usable in a dire situation), and plastic fish that I got at mini golf a hundred years ago (because what if I go to the aquarium and want to take a very close up photo of the tiny fish to make it seem like it’s really a giant fish swimming with all the other normal-size fish?). All items that could be used (individually or together) in case of an outlandish emergency. Can you hear me spiraling out? We’re not even done yet.

  1. The open middle section a.k.a. just a dumpster with pretty lining

This is by far the most terrifying part. Old gum wrappers (sometimes with chewed gum in them), receipts, empty lunch containers all find their resting place here — the junkyard of the handbag. These types of items will remain in the open pit until the bag becomes too full or too heavy or too suspicious-looking to pass as a power woman’s accessory, and instead resembles Oscar the Grouch’s place of residence (read: trash can). In my bag-pit, there is always about $6 in coins flying around, one of those little plastic cups that holds salad dressing, an empty Tupperware from no time in recent history, rogue post-it notes with nonsense lists on them (I once pulled one out of my bag that just said “groceries” — no list of specific items I may have needed, not even a “get” to make this post-it an important reminder. Just a pink square with a noun on it that I saw important enough to keep around). The bottom of my bag, as I recently discovered, is just a layer of mostly dried teriyaki sauce. Which explains why everything that comes in and out of that area has the distinct smell and sticky feel of stir-fry.

In sum, never, ever, venture into the depths of a woman’s handbag.

Major Takeaways:

  1. A woman’s handbag has several layers, each more disturbing than the last — do not look, do not ask, do not even go near it.
  2. A messy bag is a sign of a powerful woman — who has time to organize their belongings while simultaneously saving mankind?
  3. If you have a cough and I offer you a cough drop, just know it’s probably several years old and, though it found its resting place in the tampon pocket, it probably did some time in the teriyaki pit.