Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Philosophy of Packing

I can't be the only person in the world who has noticed the difference in both contents and method when men and women pack for a trip. Do you suppose it's because of the differences in male and female fashions or is because of the differences in personality? Or both? I suppose to avoid very un-PC sweeping generalizations I should confine this to "Johnny and me" instead of "men and women", eh? Well, ok then. I have noticed a VAST difference between what my dearest-darling considers normal packing for a trip and what I consider normal packing. Case in point: shoes. (Like that's going to surprise you!) Here's a question for you. What is a reasonable number of shoes for an adult human being to take on a seven-day trip that involves many different activities, ranging from days at the beach to formal dinners? My husband's answer: 2. My answer: 7. Actually that's not quite accurate. My husband would LIKE his answer to be "1", but since I'm picky about the "dressing for dinner" thing, he will acknowledge needing 2 pairs of shoes...one for casual daytime wear and one for dressing up. I would LIKE my answer to be 21. I would like to change my clothes and shoes 3 times a day and never repeat a single item. I would like to have an entire suitcase (a small one!) devoted to shoes. But since both the airline and the cruise line have a baggage limit, AND since I have to carry -- or at least roll -- the damn things myself, I will acknowledge that a shoe-filled bag isn't practical and will plan to wear shoes more than once per trip. But really...the least I can manage to whittle it down to is 7 and it's taking a LOT of willpower not to throw in "just one more pair". We were also discussing exactly which suitcases to take. My d-d travels a lot for work, so we have quite a collection of sizes and shapes. He said, "Can't we just use the big suitcase and pack all our stuff in together?" After I picked myself up off the floor and stopped gasping and wheezing from laughter, I responded "Um...no. The big suitcase should work fine for my daytime stuff. We'll put our formalwear in the garment bag. But we still need a suitcase for YOUR daytime stuff." [pause while husband gives DebR The Look] I think he thought I was kidding until he peeked into the guest room to see my things spread out on the bed. I've been pre-packing for a week now, you see. Pre-packing, for the uninitiated, involves choosing a place where your Stuff can be undisturbed (in my case, the guest room bed) and laying all the stuff on the bed so you can get a sense of what goes with what, and what might need to be eliminated or added, and what size luggage you really need. I think it's a very practical and efficient thing to do. My dearest-darling's view of practical and efficient packing involves pulling out a suitcase the evening before a trip, tossing it on the bed and saying "I need four pairs of jeans" and then going to the closet and pulling 4 pairs of jeans out, more or less at random, and tossing them into the suitcase. Ok, to be fair, he doesn't toss. He DOES lay them flat. But still. Repeat with shirts, repeat with socks, repeat with underwear, etc. I ask you, how on earth does the man end up with OUTFITS on the trip after packing that way?? I've lived with him for 16 years and have yet to figure it out, but he seems to manage. That brings us to another item: books. I read *something* every day. I can't NOT read. I don't want to think what would happen if I tried. Johnny likes to read too, although he isn't quite as fanatical about it as I am. So this morning, I was going through my stack(s!!!) of unread books, which is getting a bit out of hand, BTW, trying to decide how many books to take with me and which ones they would be. J wandered into the library in the middle of this process and asked what I was doing. I told him. He said "you mean you're picking out A book to take on the trip?". "No" I replied, "I'm choosing SOME books to take on the trip. I figure 5 or 6 should do it." [pause while DebR gets The Look again] He's taking A book. He showed it to me. It's a thick book. But still...a single book. What if he doesn't like it? What if it's boring? What if it turns out he's in the mood for an entirely different genre? I have a dozen semi-finalists laid out on the bed: short stories, mysteries, comedies, trashy romances. I figure I'll narrow it down to 5 or 6 finalists the night before we leave. And if I still end up not having quite what I need, it's not the end of the world I suppose. The room we booked is right around the corner from the ship's library. :-) Now I wonder if there's a shoe store onboard...

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