It is the season of short leaves, holidays, vacations, repatriations and getaways or whatever you want to call them. The flight is booked, tickets received. Passports, visas all other documents in date, money at the ready and we’re ready to go. The men, they the husbands, partners, brothers, son or nephews are packed within minutes. They can taste the happiness of the holiday, it is so within their reach they are practically already sitting on the beach.
Now for most women, the suitcase is like the mistress of the whole vacation plan. With all the ranges and sizes of suitcases available, packing takes up time we never really seem to have. It demands our undivided attention which is already scattered by other responsibilities.
We can have the house as clean as a brand new show home. Laundry and dry cleaning done. All bills covered. Miscellaneous chores completed with expert military precision. Everything in its place. Then we think about packing. We’ve not even gone to collect the suitcase from where ever it is kept, but our minds start racing like Lewis Hamilton around a Formula One race track:
“What am I going to wear?”
“What do I need?” Or the dreaded – “I have nothing to wear.” (I know you guys can relate to this!).
We look at the suitcase as if there is some mystery to filling the case, locking it and getting it out the house. We have washed every garment that needs to be washed, yet when we start packing, we burst into a cold sweat. We break down what we will need for daytime, night-time, beachwear, if it rains, if it’s sunny! Does my bum look big in these clothes? Does my bum look seductively sexy in these clothes? Do my boobs look 30 years old in this outfit! Does my tummy look 20 years old in this swimsuit?
Then the shoes – I can’t even go there. Wait, I can. Then we quickly decide which shoes we don’t want. Great. This quick thought process is then cancelled out by which shoes to take out of the fifty pairs of shoes still left over which to decide!
There will be a pair of flat shoes, some trainers, some heels, sandals and walking shoes. (Fashion world, you still have a long way to go design walking sandals and shoes that are colourful, look good and comfortable – when will the brown sandal brigade end!) Just as I thought about this, my friend ditches her brown walking sandals, “They look clumpy!” she shrieks and takes out another pair of trainers.
Ho! ho! then it’s onto the toiletries, which is the perfect word for this stuff because most of it belongs there, and should remain there in the toilet! Flushed away never to be seen again. This is such a time to keep beauty routines simple. I have vowed not to go on holiday again with a friend who delights in taking Boots or Superdrug with her! There really is no time or need for all the ‘must haves’ that are put on the face especially when on holiday – they only drip off in the end!
So we had planned our itinerary right down to the time the taxi was booked to arrive, and we’re jumping into the taxi on our way to a happy adventure. Three days before schedule holiday everything is going fine. Up to the day before the flight, it was going so well we had time for plenty of relaxation, sleep and a leisurely day.
On the day of the flight, I arrive at her house ready for the off. There are thirty minutes before the taxi arrives. I’m in holiday mode and well, nothing is going to break it. “Hiya!” I sing as I enter the house.
“Er …..hiiiiyyyyaaa …..” A week sounded greeting if ever I’d heard one.
“Are you …… oookkkkaaaay?” The suitcases greet me with open arms, I mean open lids!
I see the suitcases opened, half filled (lovely, she’s keeping to the minimalist plan here with a little room for purchases on return).
Then I look on the bedroom floor and there are so many jars and bottles and bits and pieces, I’m thinking great, this is what is not joining us on our trip. Then she says, “I need to pack these but don’t think I’ll have enough time can you help?”
“What?” “You don’t need this stuff leave it and let’s get out of here.”
Ten minutes gone by this time. Now twenty minutes to the taxi and these taxis don’t hang around.
“I do! I do!” She pants.
It was becoming like those documentaries on hoarders. I held up an item put it in one corner of the room and she put it in the suitcase. She had a reason (not valid by the way) for why she wanted to take a product item. (Fifteen minutes to the taxi). Another realization, all the products were full-sized, no travel-sized bottles in sight. By now she was starting to reorganize her already thrice organized clothes selection! I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer of the most graceful proportions considering my urge to let rip. Ok, now she is taking more clothes out of the wardrobe and running to the bathroom. She returns with more bottles, yes these were pretty, got that ‘take me’ pulling power but I said, “No! No! No!”
“But they smell nice!” She retorts.
“You have about ten products in your suitcase to keep you smelling nice! We’re going on holiday not to Boot Camp!”
She burst out laughing, bending over with her bottles clasped firmly in her hands and sheepishly put them in the suitcase, keeping eye contact with me as she carried out the deed. My downsizing attempts were futile.
A further five minutes of this tennis of words and I said, “Right, you want you’re unneeded toiletries in your case, here you go.” Then I picked them all up and dropped them in her case. Her case was now full to the brim of the case! None of it wrapped up safely in case of spillage, but I was not having it. (Fifteen minutes to the taxi). She sneaked a few more ‘light’ items into the case.
As I sat and kneeled on her capacity-filled case and locked it into submission, I had one arm keeping her at bay from attempting to put more stuff in the suitcase.
(Ten minutes to the taxi). I opened the bedroom door, dragged and heaved her very heavy suitcases along the hallway and down the stairs, amidst claims that she had not finished packing.
My ears were shut and my eyes (as far as physically possible) firmly on the prize of getting these trunks, sorry suitcases out of the house.
I shouted above the suitcases for her to do her last checks around the house and to do her lock up routine. When I got the suitcases outside, I returned for her and ushered her out the house, locked her door and scolded her all the way to the taxi.
The taxi driver becoming politely impatient had got out of his car eagerly awaiting to see if he still had customers. On sight, his eyes lit up and he gave a wry smile. He opened this car boot, started walking towards us and gestured that he would take our suitcases. When he took the offending articles, he nearly doubled back on his knees but quickly regained his composure. It was written all over his face, ‘What could this woman be carrying in this case?’ ‘Why do women do this his eyes were saying?’
I nodded to him sheepishly and shrugged my shoulders and pointed to the offender with half a smile. My friend simply beamed as she jumped into the taxi chuckled then shrieked, “Come on, we’re going to miss our flight!”
Now on the holiday, did she use those items? Hardly any of them! No time, no need. Besides she brought more whilst on holiday! She loves a great looking packaging, most of us are guilty of this but I’ve told her it is a complete waste of money and she had to pay excess baggage on the return journey. She was blissfully happy with her purchases so even this did not deter her from looking at her lovely bottles of moisturizers, cleaners, toners, make up, latest wrinkle remover, cellulite remover, spot remover. My arguments trying to enlighten her that she was buying into these ‘promises’ of the packaging fell on deaf ears. I told her that there would be nothing of her left because they were in danger of removing her totally, not just excess oil and pimples!
We had a great holiday. Simply filled with sun, sea, sand, excellent food, music and company.