Where Can I Put This?

September 20, 2002

Every time my wife asks me to hold her purse, I feel uncomfortable. It’s not just that there’s no, well, manly way to hold a purse. I also feel this twang of envy–and then I feel conflicted because I’m envious of a purse. This results in a mental state which Freud described with the succinct German word mischmachinenemotionalensglockenspieler, which roughly translates as "musical emotional blender".

I suspect every guy at some time has wished we could carry purses. Before I go any further, though, let me say that if you think this is a bit from the Men And Women Sure Are Different, Ha Ha! School of Humor, you’re absolutely right. I have no idea how this got started because, at least in my humble opinion, men and women aren’t that significantly different. If we laugh when a comedian says something like, "Boy, women sure do own a lot of shoes, don’t they?" it’s because we think of the one woman we know who owns 300 pairs, and forget the 299 women we know who own only a small number of shoes and, like us guys, wear the same ones most of the time anyway. My theory is that back when humans were still just hunter-gatherers some campfire comedian stood up one night and said, "What’s the deal with men doing all the hunting and women doing all the gathering?" And everyone looked at each other and thought, "What’s he talking about? Nobody beats Charlie at finding roots, and Gladys brought down a bison by herself last week." But everyone laughed and went along with it so they wouldn’t hurt the comedian’s feelings. After all, this was the first joke human culture ever produced.

Maybe the division between men and women started earlier than that. Chances are some hominid was really incompetent at both hunting and gathering so he was designated "supervisor". And in order to justify his position, he decided to make some decisions, such as having all the women do the gathering while the men did the hunting, creating co-equal teams with specific goal-oriented tasks and elevating cost structure by having the women watch the children, thus eliminating the day-care program.

But I digress. I do think, though, that purses date back to hunter-gatherer times. After all, if you’re gathering you want something to put your assorted roots and berries in, and if you’re hunting you may carry a spear or something but otherwise you want to carry as little as possible so you won’t be weighed down when that mammoth turns around and charges you. Now of course we very rarely have to worry about being charged by mammoths, but we have credit cards, business cards, identity cards, more than can fit in one slim wallet, beepers, little computer devices, address books, cell phones, and other stuff to carry around. But, reasonable or not, we guys continue to have certain ideas about fashion, which is why we would feel silly carrying purses no matter how much we need a place to put all that stuff. Ideally what we need is a sort of case, preferably rectangular in shape, made out of leather, with a handle. And even though it would be, well, a male purse, we could avoid calling it that by assigning it a business-like sounding name like "briefcase". I’d better patent this before someone else gets the same idea.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


A first grade teacher was having trouble with one of her students. The teacher asked, "Johnny, what is your problem?"

Johnny answered, "I’m too smart for the first grade. My sister is in the third grade and I’m smarter than she is! I think I should be in the third grade too!"

The teacher had had enough. She took Johnny to the principal’s office.

While Johnny waited in the outer office, the teacher explained to the principal what the situation was.

The principal told the teacher he would give the boy a test and if he failed to answer any of his questions he was to go back to the first grade and behave. The teacher agreed.

Johnny was brought in and the conditions were explained to him and he agreed to take the test.

Principal: What is 3 X 3?
Johnny: 9

Principal: what is 6 X 6?
Johnny: 36.

And so it went with every question the principal thought a third grader should know.

The principal looked at the teacher and told her, "I think Johnny can go to the third grade."

The teacher said to the principal, "Let me ask him some questions." The principal and Johnny both agreed.

The teacher asked, ""What does a cow have four of that I have only two?"
Johnny: "Legs."

Teacher: What is in your pants that you have but I do not have?
The Principal’s eyes opened really wide and before he could stop the answer, Johnny replied "Pockets."

Teacher: What does a dog do that a man steps into?
Johnny: "Pants."

Teacher: "What word starts with an ‘F’ and ends with a ‘K’ that means a lot of excitement?
Johnny: "Firetruck."

The principal breathed a sign of relief and told the teacher, "Put Johnny in the fifth grade, I missed the last four questions myself."

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