Monday, February 16, 2009

Behind the faux croc curtain...

When Abraham Lincoln died, the contents of his pockets were collected and given to his son. Eventually, his descendants left the items to the Library of Congress in a box labeled, "Do not open." In the 1970's, however, in a moment fraught with breathless curiosity, the artifacts were revealed under the watchful eyes of Library of Congress curators.

The items provide an interesting insight into Abraham Lincoln and his character, but what they tell you depends on what you choose to infer. The box contained, among other things, a pair of eyeglasses held together on one side with a piece of string, a worn leather wallet lined in purple velvet that contained a Confederate five dollar bill stamped with Jefferson Davis's likeness, and some newspaper clippings Lincoln had kept that praised him, a rare occurrence during his tenure as president.

I know this, because I taught a weeklong literature unit on Lincoln every year and these little tidbits were part of it. To introduce the lesson, on the Friday before Lincoln's birthday, I had my students lay out the contents of their own purses or pockets on their desktops and infer what those items said about them. I would do the same, never editing my handbag's interior when laying it bare. As a mom, it made an interesting grab bag, with random Hot Wheels stored by my son for convenience mingling with my lip glosses.

It's been a couple of years since I followed that tradition, and I miss it. It's kind of fascinating to see what this examination turns up. Today, I'll turn out my handbag for you again, and you can infer what it says about me. This is a little trickier than usual because I'm between two purses at the moment, so I'll make them both open for analysis.

The first is my little Coach purse that I used for date with my husband on Friday. It currently contains:

1. a pink Sony camera
2. two tubes of MAC lipstick
3. one MAC lipliner
4. two tubes of MAC Lip Glass
5. my wallet with two driver licenses (one with my maiden name), three check cards, one credit card, Disneyland annual passes for my son and I, a movie ticket receipt (no title listed), my son's and my library cards, a Nordstrom gift card, a Costco card, and two super saver movie passes.

The second is a giant faux croc patent leather bag that doubles as a diaper bag and occasionally as a laptop case. It normally contains everything listed above, plus

1. left over Iron Man valentine cards from my son's school party
2. two check books
3. a fistful of clean but crumpled fast food napkins
4. receipts (Target, Costco, McDonalds, the mani/pedi place, an ATM transaction)
5. loose cash ($9)
6. two torn, empty envelopes
7. Weight Watchers points tracker
8. several grocery coupons
9. stubs from deposited checks
10. a week old Relief Society bulletin
11. a dentist appt reminder
12. a brochure about our city's centennial celebration
13. an old birthday card from my MIL
14. a brown cotton head band
15. one more MAC lipliner, two more MAC lipsticks, one other lipstick, four more lip glosses
16. a Borders gift certificate
17. two half full punch cards for the local LDS bookstore
18. my business card case
19. a movie stub (Slumdog Millionaire, I have no idea why it's R and am glad I was talked into it)
20. a faux croc wallet with the cards I don't use very often (insurance cards, Blockbuster, Game Stop, etc.)

And looking back over the lists myself, I can analyze myself perfectly: I spend too much money on books and lipstick. I'm going to have to think harder about what goes in my purse so that if it's one day opened in excitement by future historians, it will reveal that I was a woman of great depth and intelligence. From now on, I'm stripping it down to nothing but my driver license, a credit card, and pocket sized copies of a thesaurus, a dictionary, a copy of Great American Speeches, and my college transcript (except for freshman year). Baby G better hope nothing bad happens in his diaper when we're out and about because I can't put any Pampers and wipes in there and risk looking all human and stuff a hundred years from now, in case on any given day my purse is snatched and saved for posterity.


Kazzy said...

Love the list. I tend to keep important mail in my purse for fear of misplacing it in the house. It is like an archeological dig to get through it sometimes, but what I choose to lug around does say a lot about me. Did you teach fifth grade (American history year), by chance?

CaJoh said...

I love your tie-in to Lincoln. Interesting insight into why you carry around what you do.

LisAway said...

Oh I love the Lincoln information! I need to tell my kids about him. Isn't it sad that anything my kids learn about United States history has to come from their parents? I mean it's good, but it's hard for me to remember to teach them a lot of things.

I thought I was ridiculous always having 3-5 lip glosses in my purse (none of the MAC -- or any other brand anyone would have ever heard of). Maybe smart women just do! ;)

myimaginaryblog said...

Just wanted to let you know that I would have left a nice long comment here if Blogger hadn't just eaten it. Grrr.

Kristina P. said...

I always loved the whole Lincoln/Kennedy connections when I was younger.

And I have a million purses and change them out almost daily. It's sort of sad.

Annette Lyon said...

I love historical tidbits like that. And what a cool exercise.

Debbie said...

I wonder how many moms have dirty tissues in their purses! Or other artifacts that we would rather not have people use to infer things about us. I think moms should get a "pass" on this exercise:)

Kimberly said...

It's probably a sign of my weak character but I feel a strong urge to clean out my purse now. Eeep.

Erin said...

A Borders AND a Nordstrom gift certificate? They would never last more than 5 minutes in my wallet. Free money to a store burns a hole in my pocket.

Oh, and I liked the rest of your post too :)

Heidi Ashworth said...

I think I had better find out what this MAC lip wear stuff is. Is it easy on yellow teeth (b/c mine most def are)

DeNae said...

I want your purse. But you can keep the diapers and whatnot.

As long as we're pulling a fast one on your posterity, why not include a "letter" saying something like, "In case I am dead, the millions I made selling black market Acai Berries to desperate Utah fatties whose sisters wouldn't mule them up to Provo from Las Vegas like SOME sisters I could mention is hidden in the..." and then tear off the bottom. Oh, the laughs you could have there in paradise, watching the great-grandkids tear up the floorboards!

BTW, a million thanks for the kind words you leave on my little blog. I smile every time I see your name there, and I just wanted you to know the effort is much appreciated.

Lee of MWOB said...

That is one great post and you are very brave to put all of your purse contents out there. I learned that I need to go buy some MAC lip stuff.

Love the Lincoln intro - love learning new stuff!

Nancy said...

You have luscious lips that's why. Library card says intelligent and thrifty...Today my bag is a briefcase of sorts. One chopped up apple, one V-8 juice...A Calligraphy book and another book: Eats, shoots and leaves...some letters to mail. A pouch with lipstick, toothpaste and brush and small folding knife and clippers, hairpspray, floss, little mirror, hand creme. My book of computer passwords + ...a folder with a few notes re past missionaries, my clutch wallet, recently cleaned out, so just regular cards and $2. One note card, envelope and 3 stamps, car keys, gum, 2 glue sticks and a pencil pouch with 8 fine line permanent markers.

Barbaloot said...

I love all the book stuff you have---I think that says lots of good things about you.

And there is truly no such thing as too much lipgloss. :)

Elizabeth said...

great list! i have a MILLION things in my purse...and it's soooo heavy!

i didn't know the lincoln story that was great to learn.

Bridget said...

I love it. I didn't know that about Lincoln I hated history when I was in school I remembered stuff I needed to and then after I didn't need it anymore I left it behind.
What I got is that you probably always look good. Capture great moments on film. Like to have lots of fun. Like to stay clean and watch your weight. Like lipstick or soft lips. buy lots of books. and always try to be prepared. Sounds like a great selection of stuff. I always need something I didn't put in my purse. My husband actually got me a new wallet that has more pockets and attaches to my keys so I wouldn't have to keep looking for stuff. I liked you list I think I will look at my purse and blog my contents soon. Thanks for the info and great idea!

Anonymous said...

Like the post. Is that the real deal on Lincoln? I think I believe you, but I'll have to Google it anyhow.

Let's see
* Wallet, nothing to interesting in there, certainly no money, there is one old letter from a HS GF.
* Car key. No house keys or other keys of any type.
* Smattering of receipts to Home Depot and fast food.
*.38 revolver.
* Pen. Blue. Fine-tipped rollerball. Never in the same pocket at the revolver.

Ome said...

Just stumbled onto your blog and wanted to let you know I really like it! I would like to try this little experiment somehow with my buddies, but most of em don't have purses. I'll have to give some thought to where it is that men store all their "stuff". Neat post.