The Horror | Mark’s Remarks

I have said for all of my married life that I could die a happy man if my wife ever told me she’d found the perfect swimsuit and was also satisfied with her hair.

The chances of both happening at the same time are slim, but if you hear of my demise, you will know she’s made a public proclamation.

Now, I have written about demons and legitimate scary things in the past several years. When October comes around, I either write about pranks or scary happenings.

But I’ve never really written about one of the most horrific things in my life: having to look into my wife’s purse! 

She will balk and complain that I am writing about this. She will good-naturedly laugh about it all, but I really think that she delights in scaring me. I believe she saves those special words for moments when she wants to raise the hairs on the back of my neck.  

The words that make my blood run cold: “Could you look in my purse for some chapstick?”

Now, in my defense, I was raised believing that looking into a woman’s purse is akin to walking accidentally into a woman’s restroom or browsing through the lingerie rack at Victoria’s Secret for a long period of time.

It’s just something I detest.

My wife once took a class on purses. I am sure of it. I have never known a person who is able to equip a purse like her, nor have I known anyone who uses purse strategies with the prowess of an engineer or brigadier general getting ready for battle.  

To me, Michelle is a superhero and her purse is her utility belt.

Once, my wife had a pretty little purse she found quite stylish. I had purchased it for her as a gift (after she’d picked it out), and she had proceeded to outfit said purse with everything she needed.

And then some.

Her witty stepmother had taken one look at the overstuffed little purse and said “Michelle, I think you’re asking too much of that purse.”

So, over the years, I have tried to help with the quest for purse superiority.  Much like trying to find the perfect swimsuit or perfect hairdo, Michelle has tried her darndest to find the most accommodating and most efficient purse.

I’ve purchased expensive purses and also inexpensive purses that I thought might fit the bill.  I don’t know the first thing about picking out purses, but I usually take note of dropped hints and observational comments about other women’s purses.  

I also take surveys among women I know and Michelle’s friends.

I bought a large, carry-all bag once that seemed pretty stylish and most likely could have provided hangar space for a small plane.  

After a few days, I noticed Michelle was carrying her old, smaller purse.

“I don’t always like to lug that big one around,” she said after noticing my stricken look.

Next, I did research with some of her friends and ended up purchasing a larger purse with a smaller cohort.  Once again, I saw that she was carrying an older purse.

“The ones you bought didn’t match this outfit and they are sort of out of season.”

Finally, after various pieces of jewelry and even a stab at purchasing a small appliance or two (note to men: don’t do that, ever), I finally thought I’d arrived at the best alternative. I mean, I’d tried every color, every shape, flat-bottomed, round-bottomed, and on and on the adjectives go.

I located a somewhat higher-end purse. It was quite large. It had a medium-sized counterpart, a small version, and a little tiny “clutch” type purse that I was assured would win me husband points. Furthermore, the purses were of a material and color that would match any season, any lifestyle, and any outfit.

Or so I was told by some very knowledgeable and possibly evil women who were part of the whole deceiving-men-under-the-guise-of-helping-them club.

There are times my sweet wife, in order to be well-prepared (she was a Girl Scout, but follows the Boy Scouts motto), carries all three purses. If I can’t find her chapstick in the large purse, I fish around and look for it in the mama bear purse. If that doesn’t work, well, you know.  Sometimes, all three purses carry all the items she needs, just in case she wants to grab one of them and leave the others behind.  

In her purses, you will find every receipt she’s ever kept since 1995, makeup for morning, midday and evening, pairs of socks, seven pairs of my eyeglasses, earrings without mates, nail polish, 74 nail files and enough nail supplies to start a roadside business, two sets of car keys, small tupperware containers full of every type of painkiller, 42 ponytail holders, various hairbrushes, little kleenex packages and a few used ones,  a cache of writing utensils, tiny scissors, post-its, postage stamps, and various coins and wads of cash.

And that’s just one purse – usually the smallest one.

So yes, I have encountered and written about plenty of things that could cause someone to cringe in terror, but I defy any of you to look for chapstick in the abyss of my wife’s purse.

It could be the inspiration for a blockbuster, psychological thriller.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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