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By Elaine Langlois
Do you seek self-knowledge? Are you trying to discover the real you? Forget that weekly therapy session-and the strain on your purse that accompanies it. Now you can use that purse for something besides carrying personal belongings and swatting importunate salespersons. You can be your own therapist, with the hottest new trend in psychology: handbag analysis.
How does it work? Simply open that pocketbook and dump its contents on your coffee table. Then read them, like a soothsayer examining the entrails of a goat or an anthropologist scouring an ancient garbage dump. What does your handbag reveal about you?
OK, we know this one. Wallet. Checkbook. Keys. First aid kit. Brush, comb, and mirror. Lipstick. Lip balm. Antibacterial handwash. Granola bar. Mints. Sewing kit. Emergency cash tucked in a discreet pocket. Folding scissors. Notepad with pencil. Last will and testament. Tweezers. Duct tape.
Your hefty purse (it was on sale!) rattles with the loose change you've scraped from public fountains and scavenged from below the drive-through window at fast-food restaurants. It rustles with packets of ketchup, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper-you haven't had to buy a condiment in years. You always carry a few Ziploc bags for visits to buffets. Chicken breasts and tubs of butter . . . you can save 'em for later.
You tend to be overly cheerful, prone to singing with the birds and fond of pithy expressions like "spit-spot." You carry a magically lightweight carpetbag from which you can draw useful items like hatstands.
There isn't a beauty product flogged in women's magazines that you haven't invested in. Your purse is a multicolored, heady repository of the latest scents, eyeshadow, eyeliner, eyelashes, lip pencil, lip balm, lipstick, lip gloss, body gloss, hand cream, foundation, face powder, and blusher. Like an international spy, you can go into a women's room and come out a half-hour later with nobody recognizing you.
You sport a variety of cheap, vinyl confection-like containers with noodly straps whose contents are a perpetual surprise. You open one and out tumble bubble gum wrappers, a scrap of paper with that special someone's cell phone number, tutti-frutti lip gloss, turquoise eye glitter like Tinker Bell's pixie dust, who knows? Mom won't let you have a house key, but there are 20-odd key chains dangling from your bag that blink, beep, or bear fur.
You carry a purse so lightweight that you're forever checking to be sure it's on your shoulder. Its sleek compartments hold bills, checkbook, license, a few credit cards, cell phone, keys, lipstick, pen, and practically nothing else. Try wedging in some eye drops and you've reached critical mass. You're constantly borrowing, buying, and throwing away things because you don't have room to carry them with you.
Certainly these bags convey a professional image. But beware. A no-nonsense handbag may give men the impression that you are not "good wool." Choose a soft, sensual leather. Indulge in a print of frolicking butterflies for spring. Remember that there's no position in a woman's life so dignified or professional that she shouldn't be tarting up for it.
Which brings us to a related subject. What should we put in our purses to attract men? When you get right down to it, that's all we really want, isn't it?
A six-pack and potato chips.
Acetaminophen. Acetomyophin. Acetylene. A prescription pad. A stethoscope for listening to the rapid beating of each other's hearts. One of those kinky little reflex hammers.
Overwhelmed by all those muscles you see displayed on narcissistic chaps at the spa? Feather your purse with soy protein bars, sports drinks, and anabolic steroids. A must-have is one of those slithery little body leotards weighing .25 oz. Be sure to pack a ton of makeup so you can look fetching as you sweat.
Fishing lures. A hip flask. Camouflage makeup. Beef jerky. Live bait.
So, reader, what should you do, now that you are at peace with yourself and flush with all the money you have saved by being your own analyst? You should embark on a quest to find the perfect purse. Look for that perfect lipstick and container of lip balm, too, so the next time you run into Brad Pitt's counterpart at the video store, you'll be ready. And don't forget duct tape.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Elaine Langlois is a writer and editor.
Her new monthly HW column "The Skinny" will be debuting next month so keep your eyes peeled!