Grocery Store Extreme Workout

groceries

Over the past couple of years – okay, the past decade –  I haven’t really spent a lot of time at the gym….okay, no time at the gym.  At all.

I gave up the dream of washboard abs a long time ago, and settled on a tub washer with a lint trap.  Settling is nature’s way of achieving all your mediocre dreams.

I did get a gym membership once – carried that sucker around in my wallet for a whole year, but didn’t lose an ounce.  Total waste of money!

Well, I have to tell you my latest secret for staying in such great shape….average shape….I have a shape.

I get groceries.

That’s right – the geriatric crowd has kept this little exercise tidbit from us all this time. It’s probably why they go shopping every day.

capture

Here’s my routine:

‘BAD WHEEL SHOPPING CART FOREARM CRUNCH’

This exercise is simple, but you need to spend some time finding a cart with an annoying wheel that doesn’t turn properly – usually pretty easy to find at my store;  I just look for the abandoned ones.  Now, they will either constantly pull to the right or the left – to balance your workout routine, try to swap it out halfway through your shopping trip, or be sure to focus on the other side on your next trip.

The constant ‘pull’ to one side provides a steady anaerobic resistance that over time will develop not only your forearms and wrists, it might just clear up that sciatica problem in your hip.  Be sure to navigate the store in the opposite direction of the pull or you might spend the day circling the broccoli and never get to the snack aisle.

‘ DROP AND GIVE ME 10…CANS OF SOUP’

Soup cans are surprisingly heavy if you hold them long enough.  Carrying around an arm-full will get you ‘feeling the burn’ in no time.

Try getting the soup from the bottom shelf – this incorporates deep knee bends with the repetitive weight lifting of the cans.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the soup down there – this is about more than your sensitive pallet.

You can get some good aerobic exercise as well if you load up your arms then find that your spouse/training partner has moved the cart to the next aisle.

‘BOTTLED WATER WEIGHT TRAINING’

This one is pretty self-explanatory.  Pick up the biggest bundle of bottled water they sell – again, preferably on the bottom or top shelf – waist height is a waste of time.

Be sure that when you try to put it on the lower rack, the shopping cart keeps moving backwards so you have to crab-walk along trying to heave the darn thing into place.

Also, as mentioned above, you can get an extra workout if your spouse/training partner has again moved the cart to the next aisle.

‘REACH FOR THE SKY…HIGH PRICED DOG FOOD BAG’

The great thing about this is that most grocery stores put the heaviest dog food bags on either the ground or 7′ up.

Haul that sucker onto your shoulder and once again attempt to slide it onto the lower shelf of the cart.  Be sure to stretch fully to extend your soon-to-be tight tendons.

Cat food doesn’t count – they don’t eat enough to give you the weight resistance you need.

Even if you don’t have a pet, you can hang out and help someone else get theirs.  That’s a double win – exercise and some goodwill!

‘BAG OVERLOAD ARM CURLS’

Just because you’re done filling your cart and are heading to the checkout, the workout isn’t over yet!

Make sure all the canned goods are packed as tightly and as high as possible into one or two shopping bags.  Take advantage of this to work your biceps by lifting them off the belt and into the cart – then out of the cart and into the trunk.

Once you’re done, give the cart forearm crunch one more good go – walk that antagonistic annoyance all the way back into the store…maybe hand it to another shopper who could use a good workout.  I’m sure they’ll thank you for it.  Eventually.

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Mauve…And Other Things That Scare Me About Women’s Fashion

fashion

I’ve spent a lot of years living with the opposite sex, so you’d think that just through osmosis I’d learn a bit of their language.  My wife once asked me to pick up a pair of ‘taupe’ pantyhose for her – with the reinforced toe.  Right…taupe…reinforced toe.

For me, a reinforced toe meant a work boot with the green ‘steel toe’ tag on it.

Eventually I leaned that ‘taupe’ was light brown or beige…but not beige, just more of a creamy beige…but not really beige.

Then, just when I figured I knew the entire colour chart; red, blue, green, yellow, brown, black…and beige, they throw a new one at me – mauve.

I can honestly say that I can’t tell you with any certainty what colour mauve is supposed to be.  Maybe something in the green or purple spectrum?  I don’t know.  It’s all very confusing.

The other day a free fashion magazine showed up in the mail, presumably for my wife, but I’m always excited to have new reading material while I take care of business. Last year’s Ikea catalogue just doesn’t hold my attention like it used to.

After flipping through 90 pages of glossy ads and articles about ‘what’s hot this fall’, I put it down totally confused and bewildered. Barely 10 words made any sense to me. I had no idea that there were ‘25+ fall make-up ideas‘.  25!

I might not be the desired demographic for a women’s fashion magazine, but I’m not completely void of any fashion sense…am I?

I’m at least as fashion forward as the next suburban, middle-aged, beer drinking, barbecuing guy.  I know that you never wear socks with sandals, or wear a shirt that ‘peek-a-boo’s’ your big hairy gut.  At least, not to a sit-down restaurant.

Let me unpack some of what I find confusing.  In 2 different advice columns, the writers completely contradict each other.  One is telling me that overdoing style layers is akin to genocide.  Later on in a Fall Fashion spread, the author says to pile on the layers to make a bold statement.  Huh?

The whole magazine is full of these contradictions, but the advertisements are the worst! Here’s the actual tag line for a beauty cream ad:

“Conceal and treat your imperfections.  Reveal your true self.”

Did I miss something here?  How do you reveal your true self by concealing your imperfections? Isn’t your ‘true self’ all about the real you, imperfections and all?

In one page, there were tag lines that promote ‘clean and fresh’ and then go right into ‘conceal and hide’.  Why are we concealing and hiding if we’re clean and fresh?  Shouldn’t we be revealing if we’re clean and fresh?

This code language is totally beyond me.  I get that. Like I said, I’m not the target demographic, but I suspect there are more than a few women out there who are as confused as I am.

No wonder young girls are so perplexed with the whole mess that they run out and spend hundreds of college tuition dollars on cosmetics, take them home and end up looking like this…

eyebrow

This strange and foreign magazine is as difficult to understand as a 1985 VCR owners manual. But even with that, I figured out how to make the clock stop flashing 12:00:00 all the time.

It’s not just the contradictions, but the price of the stuff in these fashion magazines that really kills me!  While a model sits in a cow field on a bail of hay, looking all serious and sullen, the text below her talks about her clever way of layering a ‘SNOOD’ over her $595 dress.

First of all, what the heck is a ‘snood’? Is it a new colour? Like mauve?  No, based on the picture, it looks like some sort of….blanket, coat, poncho? And why would anyone put one over a dress that cost more than a month’s worth of groceries?

She’s also wearing ‘fun’ wedge shoes – only $750!  If a pair of those landed in my house, well…there’d probably be one less car in the driveway to pay for them.  Try walking to work in those ‘fun’ $750 shoes,and see how much ‘fun’ they still are.

I’m pretty sure a lot of the stuff in these magazines is just made up by the fashion and cosmetics industry to keep men in the dark about what women need or want in their closets and makeup bags.

I just saw a neck cream ad that boasts the active ingredient, ‘Gravitite-CF’ to lift and tighten skin.  Graveitite? It’s been years since high school chemistry class, but I don’t recall learning about the element ‘Gravitite’.

Men would never fall for such thinly veiled attempts at making us think a catchy name will make us buy something.

We’ll stick to our tried and true power tools – the cordless ones with the 20V XR MAX Lithium Ion compact quick trigger battery packs…only $243!drill

Missing the mark – why you should hate Target

target fail

Last week Target Canada announced that after 2 years of losses, it was going to take it’s little dog and go home, leaving the land of maple syrup and poutine to pick up the pieces of a shattered dream for over 17,000 Canadians.

Sure, Canada can be an inhospitable place when it comes to the frozen retail jungle, with our high taxes, importing tariffs, base labour rates, etcetera, etcetera.  That much we know, so why didn’t the big brains at Target know that?  Maybe they could have nudged a friendly Canuck on the arm and found out what we’re all about, or sifted through the ashes of other failed chains like Radio Shack, Sam’s Club and Marks & Spencer for clues.

Perhaps the giveaway of their eventual demise was their clamor to buy up retail space from the failed Zeller’s chain…an omen of things to come?

We can all sympathize with the dire news that hits us every January in this country, when the bean-counters tally up the coveted Christmas retail sales numbers only to find another chain is waving the white flag and liquidating it’s inventory as sales fell short of what was needed to keep the ship afloat.

For that, I feel sad.  For Target, my feelings are not so benevolent.  It has nothing to do with it being a U.S. chain that invaded our snow-covered borders.  Heck, we were excited to have them here!  We welcomed the enormous bulls-eye with open arms and open wallets.  No, my wrath has nothing to do with where Target came from.  It’s in how they came and how they left.

Target arrived with more fanfare than a Presidential Inauguration.  “We are the great Target, and we will give good jobs to hard-working Canadians.  We will support distributors, vendors, support services, and landlords; bring tax revenue to this quaint little country, and we will take on the much-despised Walmart”.

They traded here on their U.S. strength, deep coffers, savvy buying and great prices all wrapped in a sophisticated retail environment.  They said, in so many words, that they were a huge American company, so trust them.

Vendors signed up to deliver goods without credit check, terms or deposits.  They were happy just to be one of the few chosen to stock the shelves in this great retailing giant. Workers were romanced into leaving good paying jobs to join this amazing company. They all had dreams of long-term growth, as demonstrated south of the border.  And Target traded on their impressive U.S. CV.

But something went very wrong.  Their first store openings were as unimpressive as a beach party during a Canadian snow storm.  Empty shelves, weak pricing, boring selection all had the Canadian shoppers shaking their collective heads as to what Target was thinking.

It never got any better.  Stores continued to suffer from delivery issues, non-competitive pricing, and ineffective advertising.  The only thing emptier than the shelves were the check-out lines. The writing was on the wall right from the first ribbon-cutting in Guelph Ontario.

Bad planning?  Perhaps.  Underestimating the Canadian retail landscape?  For sure. These things are tragic and stupid, but that’s not what has me writing this.  The ire is in what Target did next.

After using the American head office muscle to sway us into a false sense of security with Target, they decided to pack up and leave not as an American retail powerhouse, but as a failed Canadian company that has applied for creditor protection (Canadian version of Chapter 7 – bankruptcy protection).

That’s right – Target, with all its money and influence, chose to slink back south of the border without having to make good on it’s promises to us Canadians.  Besides the 17,000 plus employees that are left in the dust, Target has used a legal loophole to avoid having to pay it’s bills here.  Not as that big American company that used all its leverage to gain favour, but as a uniquely Canadian company unable to cover it’s debt.

So now they’ll leave with hat in hand, saying ‘Gee, shucks.  Really sorry about all that inventory you shipped us, but we can’t pay for it’.  Nowhere is the American parent, still with deep pockets and international influence, swooping in to take care of the mess their offspring created, even though it was that parent who persuaded us to ‘trust’ their kid.

Where is that strong giant parent company, now that all those workers are applying for employment insurance?  What about the suppliers who are hoping to get something from the inventory liquidation process to cover some of their losses – and probably having to lay off more people – the contractors who clean, maintain, and provide security to the Target stores? All out of work, and possibly out of pocket.

There are more, I’m sure that will be affected by this, and many won’t get paid for outstanding invoices.  Target will carry on south of the border as if nothing happened up here, and some of us will still travel across to cash in on bargains, just like they have in the past.

Instead of stepping back into the mess they’ve created and making good on their financial commitments, Target chose to protect itself from taking responsibility for a lousy business strategy, and for causing a huge ripple effect on the Canadian economy.

Shameful…and I hate them for it.

Seniors: Yard Sale Predators

senior yard saleThey start early, getting a jump on the competition.  Scanning the ads in the local paper, marking the good ones with a yellow highlighter, counting out the money in their change purse – hiding the big bills so as not to suggest they’re willing to pay too much.  Pulling out the map book and planning a route for Saturday morning.  Meticulously scheduled, their logistical prowess would humble the military.

Up and dressed before dawn, they set out in their beige Buick, tank full – trunk empty.  Like tea-cozy predators, they move with fluid precision through the neighbourhoods, staking out their victims before the tables are even set up.

The scent of musty clothing attracts them like sharks to blood.  Mixed with a fresh spritzing of rosewater, a frenzied, feverish rush comes over the seniors like a wave of Ben Gay joint rub, and it’s on!

The big Buick slows to a purr.  Only the constant melodic ‘tic-tic’ of the left turn signal breaks the still silence of their stealthy patrol.

The best yard sale veterans know that you don’t stop the car unless  you spot  something good.  Parking and walking around wastes valuable time and energy, so like gang-banging low riders cruising through East LA, they lower the power windows and ease up on the gas.  She slowly reaches across the seat and without even looking, gently touches his hand.  The silver-gray hairs on his arm stand up in excitement.

‘Stop’, she whispers, almost song-like.

He can’t hear and keeps driving…….”STOP!” she finally shouts.

The over-used brakes on the Buick creak the big boat to a halt, dead in the middle of the street.  Motorists honk at the sudden stop in traffic, but their protests are in vain.  The old couple have locked on to a potential find, set amongst makeshift tables made of wood beams and saw horses.

A treasured find usurps any traffic law.

“What do you see?”, he asks cautiously.  She says nothing, but reaches for the door handle.  It won’t open…he hasn’t put the car in park yet.

She throws a contemptible look at him.  He will pay later for this blunder – after their nap.

“What do you see?” he repeats, now with the Buick safely in the park position.

“I can’t believe it”, she says.  “Must be a fake”.

There on a rickety card table covered with a plastic checkered table cloth sits a set of clear blue candlesticks glistening in the morning light.  Beside them is a matching 4-piece wine goblet set.  The mother load!

Even with her advanced glaucoma, she easily spotted them from the moving car.  Years of instinct and practice have paid off.  The big wrap-around polarized sunglasses help, too.

She’s a pro, and offers the first volley as she approaches the display; “How much for the mugs?“, she asks, knowing that the answer is irrelevant.  She’s not here for the mugs.  She wants to see who she’s up against before entering the negotiating ring for what she’s really come for.

$1 each”, the friendly seller replies.

What if I want all 4 of them?” The crafty senior asks, testing the waters.

Well, they’d be $4 total, but I can throw in a Disney movie or a book for free if you took them all”.

They’re good, she thinks to herself.  Bundling to move more product.  Very savvy.  This person is a worthy foe, but all the best rewards are hard fought for.  Her husband leans in to hear.  He’s seen this seductive dance before.

“No thanks. I’ve already got too many mugs”, the old lady rebuffs.

While the husband distracts the seller with a shallow conversation about the cool weather they’ve been having, the old woman slides over to the table with the candlesticks and wine glasses.  She doesn’t pick them up right away.  She doesn’t want them to think she’s too eager.

“Hmm” she muses. “These tea cups are cute, but they don’t match my set”.  All part of the carefully choreographed game she plays with the unsuspecting seller.

Now the husband moves in close to her, suggesting they should leave.  This is her cue to reach for the blue ‘gold’ she’s after.  It takes all her strength to keep from shaking.  These are the real deal!  She can tell by the weight and the markings on the bottom.

“What do you think of these, Herb?” She asks, with a doubtful look on her face.  Betty Davis would be humbled by her acting abilities. He shrugs his shoulders in a perfect wing man tact – act like you’re not that impressed.  In reality though, he shrugged because he couldn’t hear what she asked.

Now she’s ready.  All week – the planning, the scheduling, the stops only to watch Jeopardy and eat some creamed corn on toast.  It all comes down to this.

“I’ll give you $5 for those dusty old candle sticks…and the matching glasses”, in an uncaring manner, but her loins quiver and a bead of sweat appears on her brow.  It could just be the heat.

“Well, I think they’re some kind of antique.  I was hoping to get $20 for them”, was the quick reply.

Foreplay, the old lady thinks.  This just makes the climax all the more intense.

“For those things?  They’re not worth that much. How about $10?”.  She tries not to blink as a curl pops out of her tight blue-rinsed weave.  Her husband has moved in closely, just in case her bum knee gives out on her like last week.

“Okay, I guess so.  SOLD!”

SOLD.  The old couple have waited all week for that one brief moment of pure ecstasy on hearing those words. SOLD.

He looks at her, and she looks back at him.  Their hands touch as they reach for their bounty.  Her soft, nearly opaque skin glistens against his gnarled hands, but at that instant, they breathe deeply together.

He pays the seller, and she reaches for a tissue tucked into the sleeve of her blouse and dabs her upper lip.  The big Buick barks back to life, releasing the traffic chaos it created.

Later, as they admire the new finds on their fireplace mantle, they fall asleep in each others arm chairs, while a rerun of Matlock drones in the background.

Next week?  The Flea Market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the nest

Out of the nestI’m not very nostalgic.  Purging old stuff from my basement and garage is usually only difficult because of the work involved, not because of the sentimental value of the treasures buried in dust and cobwebs.

I don’t attach much emotion to things – which is good from a hording standpoint, but probably not when it comes to kids artwork.  I remember getting caught by one of my kids once when I threw out one of their masterpieces from Kindergarten.  They were mortified that I didn’t want to treasure every object they came in contact with.  I’m just not wired that way.

The same ideology applied to how I raised my kids – there was never a time that I sat up late at night, rocking one my precious, fevered little darlings back to sleep where I thought ‘I wish this feeling would never end’.  In fact, I couldn’t wait to see what great adventures were laid before us – what these smelly little diaper destroyers would eventually become.

I also wished I remembered what a full nights sleep felt like.

When we brought our first-born home from the hospital, I remember sitting in the living room after the whole birth ordeal, wondering ‘what do we do with him now?’.  For me, it was far more exciting to see what would happen next, than clinging to things past.

I guess I just associate more with the here and now, than the days gone by.  I’m pretty sure all the Facebook psychologists will have a field day with these thoughts.

I don’t want to suggest that I’m not the proudest Dad in the world at how they’ve turned out.  I am!  Heck, based on how I saw my parenting skills, I’m actually surprised that they beat the odds!  I guess my wife was the tipping point factor for them.

We’ve been dealing with our Son’s transition to adulthood for the past couple of years as he’s been living in another city while going to University. This fall, our daughter will be doing the same.

Our ground school lessons are over – now it’s time for the kids to fly.  Amazing, exciting times.

We’ve been frantically completing all her applications, payments, etc., with a mix of frustration and excitement for the past few months.  These are incredible times for her and for us.  It’s also been hectic enough that we haven’t (okay, I haven’t) really stopped to think about what this means.

Yesterday though, it hit me.

We were at the store, getting some kitchen supplies for her new home on campus.  As we filled the cart with dishes and tea towels, the sudden weight of what was coming hit me like a school bus.  Our baby will be leaving home.

It actually surprised me, feeling like I did.  Maybe it shouldn’t have, but there I was, staring down at this pile of independence; cutlery, dishes, a can opener.  I think it was the stupid can opener that got me.  That’s the clear sign that she’s leaving.  You can mentally quantify the other stuff, but a kitchen gadget like a can opener means they’ll be doing things on their own from now on.

Again, I’m not nostalgic, so I’m trying to think of all the upsides of not having a kid in the house.

No more checking in to see that she’s up in the morning, or cleaning up the kitchen after you’re pretty damn sure you cleaned it up before you went to bed last night.  No more of your stuff being moved from where you left it.

No more lights left on all night, or having to close the bedroom door because the ‘night owls’ don’t sleep like normal people do, and they wake you up with their stomping around all night.

We’ll be able to eat dinner where we want, when we want, and what we want.  We won’t have to think about anyone else (except the dog, of course).  GROCERY BILLS CUT IN HALF!

So, why am I so stuck on that stupid can opener?  Have I suddenly tapped the nostalgic emotion, hidden away all these years? Will I suddenly find myself digging through old pictures and trophies, recalling how I felt at the time, creating a shrine of what my kids used to be?

That can opener, I think, is a metaphor for where we are with our kids.  They will use the tools we’ve given them to leave the ‘can’ and set out to start their own lives.  It’s out of our hands now.  They’re turning the crank, not us.

Like I was almost 2 decades ago, anticipating what will come next, I’ll be cheering on my kids and underestimating just how awesome they’ll turn out, but those 2 decades left a legacy.  You can’t ignore how profoundly your life changed because of them.  For the better.

Maybe I am getting a bit nostalgic.  Maybe I’ll spend a little time looking through old pictures, remembering how I felt at the time.  Maybe that’s what I’ve learned from my kids.  That time we spent together, figuring out life as we went along, was the stuff of life.  Those crafts from Kindergarten weren’t just construction paper and glue – they were the milestones that I kept looking for – those ‘next great things’ that I couldn’t wait to see.

Sure, having the house to ourselves will be great in many ways, but I figure it’ll be about a week before we wish they were back home again.  Maybe the can opener won’t work, and we’ll have to swoop in and save her from her independence.

As much as I might wish that, I sure hope it doesn’t happen.  Leaving the nest is just another step for kids.  A painful, thrilling, sad, exhilaratingly huge step.

And I couldn’t be more proud.

It’s all my fault

cropsI have a confession to make – I’m to blame for everything.

You see, when I shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, I want only the best, ripest, and freshest produce for my family.  Because I only pick the best, freshest and ripest, the rest of the fruit gets left behind and is eventually thrown out by the store.  I don’t want it, and I won’t pay for it, so they have to get rid of it.

Because this is how I shop, the store owners tell their suppliers not to give them any old, bruised, marked, or otherwise ‘unattractive’ product.  The suppliers comply.  It’s about me.  I’m paying, so they have to do what I want.

Now, the supplier is going to go back to the farmer.  He’s going to tell the farmer not to pick anything that has a mark on it, is bruised, or has signs of insects or other natural diseases.  The farmer has to comply, since the supplier won’t buy it from him otherwise.

The farmer, faced with fields of growing crops, needs to yield as much perfect produce as he can, or he’ll go broke.  I won’t buy anything sub-par for my family, so the grocery store won’t buy anything sub-par from the supplier, who won’t buy anything sub-par from the farmer….you get the idea.

Standing out in an open field, exposed to the elements, the farmer has few choices, since his crops are what feeds his family.  He needs to ensure that everything he grows can be sold, otherwise he’s growing nothing but debt.

With few options, the farmer employs the help of chemical sprays to ensure his crops look perfect.  It’s my fault.  I’m the guy standing at the road-side stands, checking each cob of corn for worms.  I’m not bringing those nasty bugs home to my family, so I guess I’m willing to have the corn sprayed, even if that’s not a conscious decision at the time.

McDonalds is my fault too.  Sorry.  Sometimes I’m in a hurry, or just too lazy to cook.  I asked for quickly prepared food – so quick in fact, that I can drive up to a window and have it handed to me, hot and salty within a minute.  I told McDonalds that this is how I want my food, so they complied.  I know it’s not healthy, but sometimes I just need to scarf down some grub while I’m on the run – and if pushed I’d say that I sometimes really crave the taste of a Big Mac.

The big-box stores?  You know it – me again.  I needed variety, long hours and cheap prices for all those toaster ovens, back massagers and iPhones. Sure, there were little stores that had them, but what a pain in the butt, having to drive from store to store.  And I didn’t know when they were open or if they had good prices.

I know, I should have supported the local business owner, but heck, who has time for that?  When I need a left-handed spindle crank, I can’t risk going to a store that doesn’t have it in stock and in 3 colours.  Nope – big box is the way to go.  I don’t know why that strip mall near my house looks so deserted though.  Must be the economy.

Although I’m not a photographer, I’m also responsible for the paparazzi attacks on celebrities.  I just can’t get enough of those tabloid magazines while standing in line at the grocery store.  A 3-headed baby that sings like Elvis?  Are you kidding?  Who’s got the latest ‘baby bump’, and who looks worse in a bathing suit? I crave this stuff.  Because I do, the photographers will do almost anything to get the picture that will entice me buy their magazine.

I was probably the one responsible for Princess Diana’s tragic death.  Can’t get enough of the Royals – I sent those photographers on motorcycles to capture an image of Lady Diana stepping out with her new beau.

See, the thing is, I would love to blame the farmers, or the fast-food places or the big box stores for how they’ve poisoned and cheapened our planet – they’re an easy target.  In the end though, it was me, the consumer, who decided to exercise the greatest power I had.  I gave them my business.  My money.  I told them, through my humble purchasing decisions what I wanted, and they complied.

So, I want to confess.  It’s my fault these things are the way they are.  I was the one making decisions that landed us where we are today.  I hope you can all forgive me.

Anything you’d like to get off your chest?

Man’s Greatest Mystery

Throughout the ages, great mysteries have captured the hearts and minds of man and spawned exhaustive and dangerous expeditions, deep scientific debate, wild conspiracy theories and legendary folklore.

Even today, television shows are crowded with wild ideas about how the pyramids or Stonehenge were created, including such outlandish theories as alien intervention.

The Easter Island ‘Men’, the Loch Ness Monster, The Holy Grail, Big Foot, even crop circles keep us intrigued and in search of definitive conclusion.  I suppose it is our natural curiosity that drives us to solve these questions once and for all.

The truly greatest mystery ever faced by man, however, isn’t any of these.  No, the greatest mystery of all, in reality is something so confusing that it has silenced half of the world’s population.  They refuse to discuss it, investigate it or research it, and have resigned themselves to gleeful ignorance.

What’s truly amazing about this mystery, is that the answers are readily available to us, but we refuse to seek the truth.  Why is that?  Even the legendary Knights Templar, carefully guarding secrets of the Holy Grail and the lineage of Jesus of Nazareth dare not tread into these murky waters.

I’m talking, of course, not about life on Mars, or the spoilage-defying lifespan of a fruit cake, but of the one true mystery of mankind:  Purses!

This innocuous little fashion accessory has defied logic, physics and has created paralyzing fear in the bravest of men. In it’s simplest form, the purse is nothing more than a bag with a handle on it, but has launched some into the fashion stratosphere and others into bankruptcy.

Once on the shoulder of any woman, the purse conjures magical powers.  It can make a lady’s knees quiver with its beauty, or make a lady’s knees buckle with its weight.  Girls swoon in high-end fashion boutiques at purses that cost more than a mini-van.

As delicate and beautiful as they may be, given to a man to  hold, they take on the properties of a sack of anthrax.  Men perspire, and use only the extreme ends of their finger-tips, desperately attempting to limit physical contact with the bag.

Just observe the look on any guys face as his wife/girlfriend/mother hands them their purse and says ‘hold this while I try on this dress’.  Sheer panic.  He holds the purse awkwardly, keeping it a good distance from his body as if to try to convince everyone else in the store that it isn’t his.

Hand a purse to a girl, and the reaction is completely different.  They immediately size it up, turn it around and around, check the handle and clasps, then cozy it up close, snugly to their shoulder, and rush over to the nearest mirror to see how it looks on them.

The outward properties of the purse may indeed be a great mystery to most men, but it pales in comparison to the truly enigmatic features of the inside of the hand bag.

What deep secrets lie beneath the zippers, clasps, or snaps is the stuff of legends.  For men, the contents of the average purse are and always will be as taboo as walking in on your parents having sex.  You must never peer into it, or like Medusa’s spell, you’d immediately turn to stone, or worse, uncover a secret about your sweetie that can’t be undone.  Once you know, it’s like trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube.

Even for the owner of the purse, it’s contents are often a puzzlement, and items placed in it seem to disappear into a vast black hole, and can only be recovered with significant effort, and usually in a really inappropriate time and place, like when standing in a rainstorm, locked out of your car or house.

I was at the grocery store the other day, and I watched as woman after woman, knowing that they’d have to find their credit card to pay for the groceries, didn’t start the frantic search until the amount appeared on the little screen.  It’s not like they had other financial means if the amount was less.  I don’t get it.  Then, despite the amount of time they take carefully putting things back in the purse, it takes 10 minutes to retrieve it again. ‘Now, where did I put that debit card?’, while a very long line builds up behind them.

This last puzzlement seems to confuse me the most.  Somehow, when a woman is looking for something in her purse, it gives her universal license to block the way of everyone behind her without any apology.

‘Honey, this person is trying to get past you’.

‘Well, he’ll have to wait.  I’m looking for my shopping list’.

Purses, like the ones Mary Poppins or Hermione Granger have, seem to be able to hold items of far greater mass than the dimensions of the purse itself.  While a deep mystery that defies the laws of nature, they sure do come in handy!

How is it that a purse barely big enough to hold a super-model’s lunch, can actually house a full set of keys, wallet, makeup bag, lip gloss, change purse, cell phone, kleenex, Tylenol, nasal spray, sticky notes and pen, address book, baby wipes, sewing kit, scarf, pocket calendar, extra panties, and crackers?  Then, when you get to the store, you hand her your wallet and keys, and she finds room for them!

Yes, the common purse is likely the greatest, and scariest mystery that any man will face, and it’s best that we simply accept the unknown magical powers that lie within these handy fashion accessories and leave well enough alone.

Like the curious cat, it may end badly if we were to dig within the silky walls of the purse and attempt to do any more than appreciate it’s special properties from afar….so next time you ask for something and your better half says ‘It’s in my purse’.  Don’t dare try to retrieve it yourself.  Gingerly and with great reverence, pass it to them to reach in and pull that rabbit out the the proverbial hat.