Alas, as I am feeling puny and want to do nothing more than get back under the covers, today’s post is a condensed version of an earlier one. I plan to be back, dancing on the ceiling, by tomorrow.
Hidden behind a rack of beach bags at Marshall’s, a large black purse called my name and whispered: You need me.
It was a nearly exact knockoff of one Martha Stewart had featured as her new favorite handbag, touting it as perfect for staying organized: a briefcase-sized purse with large compartments, small zippered hidey-holes, and roomy spaces in-between. It could transform me; I could feel it! This purse had Martha power!
I didn’t just “stock” the bag; I moved in. Zip-lock bags with items for any medical, wardrobe, or cosmetic emergency…check! Stash of crosswords, Sudokus, paperback novel…yes! Sunglasses, checkbook, pens, pencils, wallet, laundry pen, post-it pads…exactamundo, and with room to spare. I was ready for a cruise on the USS Minnow.
Martha Stewart hadn’t specified how to find the stuff in those compartments and that proved to be ticklish. A miner’s hat couldn’t penetrate that darkness. I dared not let a grandchild reach in for gum lest his small arm be sucked in by the gravitational pull.
My cell phone had been missing for a week. Somewhere in the house or car… or somewhere in there? The stamps I’d bought at the post office– left on the P.O. counter? Carelessly tossed in a drawer? Or caught in the entrails of the bag?
I’d searched by feel and was convinced they were somewhere inside the house along with a few lip balms, photographs, a necklace, and the safety deposit box key. In the meantime I began wearing clothes with pockets to stow anything I needed quickly, until I had time to have lighting installed inside the purse. One doesn’t give up on something Martha recommended.
The program was being held in the round, amphitheater-like facility of the local art museum, an imposing building with marble floors, vast ceilings, and intimidating acoustics. One dresses for events at the museum. I chose an outfit which included a pocket for my ticket and car keys. Dearly Beloved knew this was a big deal to me, so he checked me for dog hair and any exposed size tags on my clothes.
The lights dimmed as the speaker, a very entertaining lady from Tennessee named Carol Reese, began her slide presentation of gardening do’s and don’ts. The closely sheared shrub “meatballs” were definitely “don’ts,” while the “do’s” included butterfly-attracting wildflowers and perennials. She held the audience in thrall.
Until a cell phone began ringing.
Carol hesitated for a couple of beats before continuing, trying to ignore the jarring intrusion, while members of the audience looked around to find the direction of the sound. They looked in my direction, since the annoying ring was coming from someplace near me. . . at my feet, to be precise, although since the floor was black, the whole darned purse had become invisible. I felt around for it.
The women on the rows at the front of this sunken theatre made a scene of turning around and looking up, in part to demonstrate to their own innocence. I dared not turn around to try that myself, for I knew the people behind me were pointing at my head, gesturing, “Her! Her! Her!”
Looking innocent was not an option. I groped for the purse, then unzipped and stuck my hand into its bowels in a fruitless search. As the phone continued to ring, I got down on my knees and tackled the bag, hugging it against my body in a desperate attempt to muffle the sound.
Finally, mercifully, it stopped. Carol’s talk became a blur as I prayed to the god of mercy and the cell towers of Verizon: don’t let it ring again!
Few people other than my husband and children even know the number. This building had more than one floor and we were at basement level. Cellphones don’t even work in such places, not to mention that the battery on mine should have run down days before. Where is shoddy technology when you need it?!
When the program ended, I again hugged my bag to me– definitely not out of affection– ready to ride out of Dodge.
Once in the car, I unzipped all the compartments and dumped the contents onto the seat beside me. Sure enough, the phone–one faint bar left on the battery signal–tumbled out. The message light was blinking.
Who? I listened to the message.
In his lost-in-my-own-world, absent-minded professor voice, Dearly Beloved was saying:
“I think I’ll mail the American Express bill and I can’t find the stamps. Do you know where they are?”
WHAT??? I looked down at the heap beside me. Stamps?
Yeah. I knew where they were.