A bag-of-infinite-holding was a must-have when I pretended to be Oexanna, a Dungeons and Dragons character that romped through torch-lit, water-stained brick mazes and green forest paths, where there were creatures that might jump out and getcha.
To adult females, this bag-of-infinite-holding is known as a "purse" or possibly a "handbag."
At $898 for a "metallic francine" bag by Coach or a $220 Prada-knockoff, army-green purse, they should be called burglary satchels.
I would rather go on a book-shopping spree.
The man in my life calls my purse my "pocketbook." It must be a New York term, because pocketbook brings to my mind a wallet.
A wallet, as the calendar on my wall intimates, is rarely as big as a man's ego.
I am in trouble now.
Curiously, the items found in that imagined bag-of-infinite-holding are not dissimilar to the ones in modern purses.
Oexanna carried a knife.
Sherrie dug through her bag and produced a screwdriver.
The potions women carry in their purses now far exceed what I carried as a teen.
A quarter of a century will do that, I guess.
While Oexanna of the Tzel carried a bottle of Troll Away, Carol of Payson carries Bath and Body Works' Black Raspberry Vanilla Hand Cream, and pepper spray -- because you never know when you are going to meet a modern troll.
For use as war paint or seduction Oexanna carried kohl.
I carry a pouch within my purse that holds six shades of Rimmel, a pink tube of mascara, a variety of lipsticks and Burt's Bees lip balm.
Oexanna was illiterate.
I was (am still) a compulsive list maker before I discovered it was more fun to write stories.
I have between one and three reporter notebooks depending on the day's requirements.
Yet, this is where my purse goes wrong.
It eats pens.
It spews them back as copper pennies, lint and empty gum wrappers.
I am convinced of these facts.
Where there is smoke...
The purse stories my friends tell beat me soundly in the unusual item category.
Tamara smelled something burning so she looked in the back seat of the car to discover that another driver's still-lit cigarette butt had flown in through the open car window and landed in her purse as she drove down the highway.
The biggest surprise at the bottom of Jaque's rarely-cleaned-out, gigantic purse was a microphone.
She could not think of anything questionable in her purse when airport security pulled her aside, but the inspector dug out a microphone.
As he looked strangely at Jacque she took the microphone from him and said, "Don't you carry a microphone with you?"
Then, she put the microphone in his face as though she was expecting him to respond.
"I know he thought I was nuts. Perhaps I am," Jacque mused.
The microphone had been in her purse since she had used it in a speech for a class months previous.
Melody, who changes purses every day, found a surprise set of keys once.
"Turns out a friend's 3-year-old son had dropped his mom's keys in my purse," Melody said.
Jackie C. said that the item a man would find weird in her purse is a tape measure.
(I think certain men might find this fact intimidating.)
She leaves the tape measure behind when she switches to a "dressy grab bag."
"I only switch to a small, dressy grab bag when dressing up and going out -- and that happens rarely here in Payson," Jackie said.
If Oexanna needed her Troll Away quickly, she had to dump all the junque out.
Modern women demand more organization.
Jackie's two requirements: "The bag must have a strap or handle so that I can carry it over a shoulder or around my waist, freeing my hands to shop and it must have compartments for all my things, cell, credit cards, change, bills, etc. -- it can't be just one big open pit."
Donnalyn buys purses at least once a month.
"The smell of good leather is so appealing," she said.
Good stitching and softness is also important.
Melody and Donnalyn change bags depending on what they are wearing.
"Sometimes I will dress based around a shoe or a purse. It's kind of a sickness, but I don't care," Melody said.
She wore a royal blue patent leather purse to go with her royal blue patent leather shoes the other day.
Switching can be confusing.
"Sometimes I won't empty everything into that new bag, so when I go back to the one I just "wore," I am surprised about something I may have left, like a piece of jewelry, money in a pocket, etcetera," Donnalyn said.
"I never understood how a woman could just carry money in her pocket, with maybe a lip gloss and be good to go," she added.
A heavy, hard pillow
My mother and Donnalyn's mother must have gone to the same purse loading school.
They always had everything in their bags.
My mother liked a hard pillow, so her purse substituted for one on tourist trips around the state. I think she also thought under her head was a safe place to keep it.
Oexanna's bag was far too lumpy for a pillow.
My mother's purse was a scavenger hunter's dream -- with bobby pins, paper clips, hot cinnamon toothpicks from Stix.
There was treat money more often than not.
Aunt Peggy's equally heavy purse contained coffee candy, menthol cigarettes, smelling salts, bandage scissors, a pink hairbrush (yeah, I remember it for several misadventures.)
Melinda stopped smoking three years ago and was surprised to discover she still has a travel-ashtray in her purse.
Kathleen's purse is heavy with photos of her children.
Cherilynn's is heavy with business cards for networking.
The coinage of D and D games were often Caesar's, but Christine is a modern woman. She carries three checkbooks, one for each business.
Modern purses, especially in allergy season, carry a variety of bottles from the local apothecary and other absolute necessities.
Lost items in modern bags-of-infinite-holding reveal themselves by tipping the entire contents onto the bed, because, as my friend Teddy said, "the bed is the only surface large enough."
I knew there was a reason I needed to trade my queen-size bed for a California king.