Skip to main content

If it's not one thing, it's another: What’s in Your Bag? A Tale from Subterranea

I can tell when the warm weather is here to stay because those long tables set up by the NYPD to search our bags in the subway stations are gone and so are the gaggles of women holding religious tracts at the 207th Street stop of the A train. It’s just too darn hot to proselytize and stop and inspect the perspiring masses when temperatures on subway platforms and stations reach triple digits. But I have discovered a theory as to why women’s bags aren’t searched as often as the ones belonging to their male counterparts.
            My theory is that men are selected because they travel lighter. Let’s face it. A wallet and a small bag get you in and out and off to your destination quickly. My handbag/suitcase weights 27 pounds. I know. I weighed it myself. A heavy bag, by the way, also serves as a deterrent to a purse-snatcher. He just might trip over it, and it requires some measure of dexterity to remove the bag from my shoulder; this involves a shoulder roll followed by a twist and drop.
Sometimes I find things that I can’t recall even placing in my handbag, including a desiccated banana, a flat but still edible Devil Dog and a crumpled bag of dark chocolate Raisinets, pennies picked up from the street, and many pens lurking at the bottom. I once emptied my bag of a typewriter, a pair of shoes, two bottles of Yoo-Hoo and three Kit-Kats, plus a toothbrush, wallet, telephone, makeup kit, keys, tissues, a book about cemeteries in the city, and someone else’s umbrella.  It would take a good 40 minutes to empty my bag. And then everything has to get pushed and shoved back in and organized. What police officer has the time for that? And if there’s a quota system, I’ve just disrupted the numbers.  
And, I’m one of those compelled to explain my belongings and purchases and everything else. You know the type.
“I’ve had this keychain since the sixth grade, Officer.”
“Remember Starsky and Hutch?”
“No, you don’t look like either one, but I was just wondering.”
“ I don’t have a dog but let me explain why I have a squeaky dog toy in my bag… “
“Do you shop at Lord & Taylor? What do you think of this blouse?”
“The wallet? That was a gift for my last birthday. I like all of the compartments.”
“No, that’s not for bullets, that’s a toothbrush holder.”
“THAT’S personal.”
“My driver’s license photo makes me look like one of the Muppets.  Do you think I should have it redone?”
“Pardon me, but those are Tic-Tacs.”
“Oh, look. Here are photographs from my vacation. Check this out.”
“Do you think $249 is too much to spend on a sweater?.”
“And What do you think  of these blue shoes? They match my eyes.”
“No, you can’t borrow them.”
“Very funny. This doesn’t belong to Alex Rodriguez. These are my knitting needles.”
“That’s just my phone barking."
Now just imagine the same man shedding his civil service role and crossing over to the other side, returning home after seven hours of examining the miscellaneous contents of bags belonging to my fellow travelers and me as we trek below ground, and dropping wearily onto a recliner, eyes closed, and then his wife bursts through the door.
“Guess what I found on sale!?”

The contents of my handbag: one typewriter, a bacon cheeseburger with french fries and a pickle from Piper's Kilt, a package of Devil Dogs, one bottle of Yoo-Hoo and a bottle of water, a drink coaster, one umbrella, one shoe, toothpaste and a toothbrush, a book of the writings of the journalist Marie Colvin, my wallet, telephone, a bag of pens, 32 cents in loose change. .  .(houseplant for decorative purposes only and not included in the handbag)


Popular posts from this blog

Women's History Month: What You Should Know

What You Should Know includes a diaspora of women, many from Inwood and Washington Heights in upper Manhattan, and showcases the diversity and strength of women in our New York City. These women are Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican, Cuban, Spanish, Korean, South Asian, Irish, African-American, White, Jewish, Episcopalian, Christian, and Muslim. They are breast cancer survivors, teenagers, and women with disabilities. They are straight, gay, transgender, and bisexual. They are mothers and daughters, grandmothers, sisters, women who work and women who work together. And when you go against them. . .

A Tribute to Frank Hess 1941 - 2018

I share with deep sadness the news that Frank Hess, longtime Special Assistant to recently retired Assemblyman Denny Farrell, passed away on February 20, 2018. A longtime resident of Washington Heights and an astute observer of the political scene around the state, Frank could always be found wearing a jaunty hat and with cigarette in hand. Like Community Board 12 members Obie Bing and Pamela Palanque North who served on a number of boards and former Assemblyman Brian Murtaugh, another piece of uptown’s history and heart is gone. He touched so many. And to some, he was like family. ** It’s been said that the real measure of a man is how he treats people, where he stands in moments of controversy, and how he handles power. But - let’s get real. The true measure of a man is in his matzoh ball soup - and Frank made a GREAT matzoh ball soup.

He handed down a recipe that called for about a hundred matzoh balls because his mother cooked for so many. Matzoh balls were planted all over my ap…

My Year (or so) with the New York Yankees

...At the old Yankee Stadium, the press box rose high up above home plate and over to the left side and consisted of a few rows of countertops, outlets and chairs, with broadcast booths, and a smaller press box where I sat with the men of the Black and Hispanic press and TV and radio reporters. The Yankees official box sat off to the left, and Eddie Layton’s Hammond organ called outCharge!from the far right. This was the generation of technology that followed the electric typewriter and before cell phones, email, texting and the Internet. The state-of-the-art computer at the time was a heavy black Radio Shack laptop with a tiny screen of four or five lines. One older sportswriter still used a typewriter, and the clickety-clack of the keys made me think of the movie,The Front Page.

Most of the older men—and almost everyone was older then me—wore plaid short-sleeved shirts under tweed sport jackets, even during the warmer weather. They reminded me of Oscar Madison. At least these men had…