The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

Guest Writers' Humor: October '97 Contest "Honorable Mention"
Best "Short" Humor!

Just Put it in Mom's Purse


Stacey C. DeKeyser

Spring is here, glory be! Time to get a new purse. I just wish it didn't have to be a "mom" purse.
A mother's purse is like a tube of toothpaste: You start with a clean, perfect, pretty package, and gradually it becomes a mangled, shriveled, dirty, punctured, slopped up shell of its former self. After months of hauling the same purse to ball games, skating parties, school, and shopping, it's time for a fresh start.
Getting a new purse is about as close as I get to organizing my life. I get the urge to clean out closets too, but then I think about it: sorting, trashing, and re–stacking, only to watch the trash pile disappear back into the closet when a suspicious family member inspects it. The urge somehow passes. Cleaning out my purse gives me the same feeling of accomplishment with a minimum of time invested, and if I'm lucky I find loose change.
I go through the same purse–shopping ritual every spring and every fall. I start out looking at the cute, stylish little purses: the ones that sling over your shoulder on a skinny strap and bounce on your hip. They hold no more than a credit card, a little cash, comb, and lipstick. I try one on and look in the mirror. I'm downright cute and stylish.
Next I open all the zippers and take out the paper stuffing. As I begin to imagine my essentials in this little bag, any hope of being cute and stylish becomes crushed like that old tube of toothpaste. My wallet alone would take up the entire purse.
I can't carry a small wallet. My life is not that simple. I need plenty of small bills and loose coins for lunch money and wishing fountains. I have a two–inch stack of discount cards for goodies such as my 12th package of tube socks free. I carry library cards, health insurance cards, and too many credit cards. If a mugger ever demands my wallet, I can whip it at his head and stun him on the spot. The rest of my purse is no better. It contains the usual motherly necessities: tissues (clean and dirty), Band–Aids, bubble gum, crayon pieces, children's Tylenol, and two virtual pets that won't stop beeping at me. It contains my portable office: business cards, date book, leaky pens, adult Tylenol (extra strength), and a cell phone that won't stopbeeping at me.
On vacation the list of items gets longer, and now include Daddy's stuff: sunglasses (mine and his), camera, motel key, maps, and assorted stuff collected along the way: seashells, baseball caps, rocks, socks, toys, sand, and leftover French fries ("I am gonna eat those, Mom!").
A few summers ago I decided to train the troops to carry their own stuff. The bigger the purse, the more junk you carry, right? I tested the theory. I bought one of the cute, stylish little purses.
Exactly three seconds into the next weekend outing, Daddy nabbed a shopping bag and started loading it with miscellany. Then he commenced giving piggy–back rides and playing hide–and–seek. I was left holding the bag.
The boys started out all right; they stuffed their pockets without complaint, until one of them, pockets filled, left a ten–cent treasure somewhere, never to be found again. Three pairs of sad eyes looked at me in unspoken accusation. For the remainder of the weekend I carried that infernal shopping bag. My cute little purse sat forlornly at the bottom, collecting cookie crumbs.
I learned my lesson. I am relegated by tradition and guilt to carry a "mom" purse: plenty big, plenty of pockets, definitely not cute and stylish. A big ol' lunker of a purse.
Back at the store, I finally settle for something a little smaller and less hideous than a bag of quick–set concrete. It'll do until fall, when I can start the search all over again.
Meanwhile, my cute, stylish little purse sits in the closet, waiting for the day when I won't have to carry anyone else's stuff. Of course, by then I'll need a big purse for my own stuff: pictures of the grandkids, Kaopectate (extra strength), and a hearing aid battery pack that won't stop beeping at me.

©Stacey C. DeKeyser
Margie Culbertson–McCaskey hereby has my official permission to use "Just Put it in Mom's Purse" on her web site. SCDK

ABOUT Stacey C. DeKeyser:
I was the last baby boomer born in Wisconsin. I went to the Southwest to thaw out; it took 20 years. I have degrees from UCLA and Arizona State University in subjects I never had any interest in, but boy, am I smart. Now I'm taking up space in Marietta, Georgia with my two adorable boys and one adoring husband. I write stories for children and humorous essays for adults.
Thanks to Kelly for his support and unwavering faith; to Mom for her inspiration; and to the judges for their extreme gullibility. And, did I thank you yet, Margie?

***********From Margie:Yes, you did. You're welcome, Stacey. However, it is your writing talent that got you here in the winners' circle.***********

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©Margie Culbertson

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