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Admit it, it’s a purse.

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I like men. Actually, I love them. But in saying that, I like manly men. Rugged ones. Ones who get their hands dirty. Ones who know how to use a wrench, can do yard work, and can look dead sexy having a little dirt on their face. I don’t like when men have had manicures, get facials, or can identify any items at a cosmetic counter.

Gerard Butler… definite manly man.

As a result, the one thing that still makes me chuckle every time I’ve been to Europe is the number of men carrying purses. Yessss, they are purses. Call them what you want… carryalls, bags, satchels, whatever. They’re purses, okay? PURSES. Of the many men I’ve seen with them, not one of them looked manly even though I honestly think they were trying. And what was even funnier was the number of men giving it their best shot to act masculine even though they were toting a purse. Seeing a man with hearty tattoos, bulging muscles in a shirt that is two sizes too small gently flip through the contents of his purse looking for something nearly sends me into full belly laughs. Do any of these men necessarily care if they look manly? Probably not. But I care.  It hurts me to see a man look, well, dainty. Sorry, but it’s true.

It seemed to be a phenomenon on my recent Mediterranean cruise with my better half a few weeks ago. It was interesting to note not just how many men carried them, but how many men had more than one. I don’t mean, more than one at a time, but owned more than one. It was to the point where they were actually matching their purse to their outfit. If they were wearing yellow skinny jeans (this is a whole other story), they had a yellow purse. Fire engine red jeans, then a corresponding purse to match.

Excuse me sir, I love your purse.

I guess the plus side to dating a man who wears a purse is that you can borrow it whenever you want.

My theory is, if you are carrying something that isn’t a shopping bag, a briefcase or a backpack, then it’s a purse.

Suuuure, they might be “in style” right now, but so were parachute pants at one time (although they may be coming back which is beyond frightening), and they weren’t attractive either.  So there.

No one should be wearing these pants unless you’re in a Broadway revival of “Aladdin” and playing the Genie.

I’m just saying that man purses don’t exactly ooze masculinity. Unless you are Indiana Jones. He had to carry a man purse because a backpack would have been cumbersome and reduced the chances for his shirt to be open and would have made it nearly impossible for him to narrowly make it under those vertical sliding doors. Indy was a manly man. If you are not running through a jungle, a desert, or an ancient temple either chasing or being chased, then you don’t need a purse. Running through a crowded street in London, Paris, or Rome trying to catch a cab does not constitute needing a purse either.

I’d hold his purse anytime….

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having one, I just find it funny looking, because no matter how you carry it, you aren’t emitting any testosterone while you are wearing it. You can’t make a purse any more manly than you can a tube of lipstick.

My boyfriend couldn’t help but shake his head at all the men wearing purses (he’s a manly man and found these “bags” feminine, as did I). He didn’t want to know what they carried in them. But as for me, I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth they even had in their purses… a wallet, and then what? A comb? Lotion? Lipbalm? Nail file? Gum? Mirror? Maps? hat was in there???

My man wouldn’t even put Chapstick on if his life depended on it. He says it’s only one shade away from being lipstick and well, then you have a whole other issue at hand. So there you go. No man purse for him, which might be too bad because sometimes I’d like a break from mine and I could have put my stuff in his purse for a while. Oh well!

:o)

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Beating the rush in London…

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When taking my second trip to Paris, I decided to take the leap and hook in a couple days to jolly ole’ England and hit London. I hadn’t been there and with all the hype of the (then) Royal nuptuals taking place in only a few months, I thought it would be the perfect time to swindle a side trip to this great city.

With the itinerary already set in place for activities in Paris, it left me and Erin a short amount of time for London. After deciding our best option was to fly there we realized we’d be hitting the ground running since it worked out to be that we would have less than 48 hours in London. That’s not much time to see anything, but we were glad to take the option.

Now, not being familiar with European airlines, we booked Easy Jet, a discount airline with incredibly reasonable rates. And that’s just what we were looking for…  a cheap flight for a rediculously quick trip. This is where the motto “You get what you pay for” comes into play.

Yah, there’s a reason these people are running to the plane…

We hopped the train in Paris to the airport, checked in, and were seated in the lounge area waiting for the boarding call. The announcement comes, and immediately about 80 people started lining up. We thought they were nuts.

The people who line up for any flight as soon as the gate agent calls for pre-boarding always baffled me. Suuuure, get the in the lineup so you are the first one on the plane and you can sit down for 30 minutes while the rest of us get on. It’s not like the first ones on the plane get better food (or any food in most cases), a better seat or get to the destination any faster, right?

Erin looked at me and said, “What seat are you?”

I looked at my ticket, ” Hmmmm… oh… 35 I think. I guess each seat is numbered individually, not the row itself.”

The people in the line start moving and after the majority were gone, we joined the last of the passengers and went to the plane. Imagine the shock when we got there and realized it was sheer chaos. I wasn’t in seat number 35…. that must’ve been my ticket number. The seats on this plane had no numbers, they were on a first come, first served basis. It was a freakin’ free-for-all. People were pushing and shoving and getting angry with one another, it was like we were all kids and someone had broken a pinata full of airplane seats and everyone was scrambling trying to get one. It was nuts. No damn wonder people were lining up inside the airport. Erin and I somehow managed to find two seats together and sat down. My nerves were shot and I was frazzled. How on earth did this whole rediculous  no-assigned-seat idea come together? All my life we’ve heard how refined, how well mannered, how socially proper the English were, so what the hell was this???

We arrived to a foggy day in London, took another train and were on way to the city centre. We were smart enough to book the London Pass which gave us admittance to many London attractions for one low price – that is, for as many as we could squeeze in during our stay. We also bought tickets for the London double decker bus hop on – hop off tour. I couldn’t very well go to London and not get on the double decker bus.

I made it to London!

Travelling with Erin is like travelling with Rand McNally in human version. She maps out cities in her mind weeks, if not months, before we ever arrive. It helped that Erin had previously been to London once already and she never forgot a detail. Nope. Not one.

Imagine my delight when while strolling through Picadilly Circus I stumbled upon one of the greatest places on earth — Whittard of Chelsea. A freakin’ tea/coffee/hot chocolate store. I’d hit my hot-choco-holic shangrila. This place was too good to be true. Tins of hot chocolate in all sorts of heavenly flavours… cinnamon, rocky road, coconut, orange, and others. It was unreal. I loaded up with three cannisters, one each of Luxury Dark, Cinnamon and of course the Coconut. After all, I had no idea if the rest of our tour of the city would bring us to another one of these amazing stores. Turned out, Whittard of Chelsea is to London what Tim Horton’s is to Canada. They were just about on every street corner.

My Hot Chocolate Shangrila….

We made our way through the city on our double decker bus, wind in our hair, fog in our eyes, and we blew past famous landmarks and highlights…. Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the Parliament buildings.

We took a ride on the London Eye (that did wonders for my fear of heights anxiety), the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels, and of course Covent Garden. Erin waited all day to get to Covent Garden. While I was in heaven over my hot chocolate purchases, she was eagerly awaiting her arrival at the Thornton’s store – a popular chocolatier. No damn wonder. It was unreal. Somewhere around £45 later, we were armed with sufficient confectionaries for the night (yes, that’s right, she loves chocolate like I do…).

It was getting late and we still had to hit Harrod’s. There was no way I was going to London and not going to Harrod’s. It was just as I’d dreamed…. it was over the top in every way, but over the top in a really really good way. I loaded up on Harrod’s memoriabilia… loving every bit of it… bags, keychains, passport holders, chocolate bars, coasters, jams, mugs, etc.

We awoke in our hotel the next day and made our way back to the airport for the return flight on “cattle airlines”. It was then, as we stood in the line for boarding that we realized we could only take ONE carry-on onto the plane. One. We had three each. If we had more than one, we’d have to return to the check-in counter at the front of the aiport, pay the fee for checked baggage, then check the surplus bags, and potentially miss the entire flight. So we had a really big problem.

We’d already positioned ourselves to be near the head of the line when they opened the gates and allowed everyone out to the mad scramble to the plane, so now we just had to figure a way to combine our three bags into one each. It was no easy feat. I’d be prepared to leave behind clothes, but there was no way I was leaving behind my new London stuff. No way. I already felt a loyal committment to my purchases and if they couldn’t go, then neither could I. We could hear the gate agents as they approached people with more than one bag, advising them to return to check-in. They were getting closer to us… we were getting panicky… could we do it? Could we stuff things so much as to get down to the limit? The guy in front of us was told to go back to the check-in.

The lady looked at me and Erin. Then I too, looked at Erin. She looked “puffy”. Little wonder, she was wearing all her clothes, all at once. I wanted to laugh, but didn’t dare as we were being given the “once over” by the lady. I’d managed to stuff most of my contents into the large Harrod’s bag I’d bought the night before. It wasn’t easy to do. I was wearing everything else… my jacket pockets were stuffed with individually wrapped truffles and packets of fudge, I’d also managed to put on two sweaters, and if I had access to a couple of paperclips I would have transformed two of my big hot chocolate cannisters into a pair of earrings. I was desperate, what can I say. We passed the inspection and got ready for the “running of the bulls” to the plane. I wondered if the airport authority knew the charades that happened with this airline, I mean, people nearly being trampled to death to get a seat.. surely there must be liability issues here. And hey, I was willing to do the trampling if it was necessary… come hell or high water, we were getting seats together.

It’s surprising how quickly Erin and I moved despite being weighed down with clothes, Harrod’s items and chocolate. We managed to get two seats together…. and our third seat-mate appeared to be a young British businessman who sucked back quite a few drinks during the short flight. Hey, can’t blame him, if it was his first time on this airline his nerves were likely shot like mine were.

Regardless of the whole airline escapade, the trip to London was spectacular. Can’t wait to go back… and maybe have more than 48 hours the next time.

Okay fellow readers… my enquiring mind wants to know….What’s YOUR favorite thing about London?

A weirdo, some seafood salad, and sore butt veins…

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This has been one heck of a long week, mainly because I’ve been battling some sort of flu/cold bug and continued to go to work. That being said, after work today I found myself in the small grocery store just down the street from my work. They’re having an awesome sale on some of my favorite veggies. Yes, I love veggies.

I enter the store and immediately begin to miss my sister because this particular store is an exact duplicate of the one in the town where she lives and the last time I was in this chain of store was with her.

The store is crazy busy – to the point I wonder if the store is giving away free groceries today. The other shoppers seem like a sea of faceless people to me as I track down the green peppers, romaine lettuce hearts and tomatoes.

I round the end of the produce section and find myself at the bacon section, which is connected to the cheese section, connected to the dairy section, connected to the hip bone, just kidding. . .As I look for the greek yogurt that has become my newest fetish, a man – who bears a striking resemblance to a homeless Wilford Brimley – steps out of my way so I can get a better look at the shelf. I look him in the eye and give a courteous smile. He smiles back. I figured that would be the end of our engagement.

Not quite a hunka-hunka-burnin'-love...

I was wrong.

I stroll down the 15 foot long wall of yogurt but have no luck in finding the Oikos Strawberry treat for which I yearn. Out of the corner of my eye I see the man I smiled at looking in my direction. I ignore it, after all, I once gave someone a dirty look before for doing that only to realize I made a fool out of myself because the person was only reading a sign behind me.

I linger a few seconds before taking a few steps in his direction. I see that as I took a few steps, he took a few steps and stopped. I take one more, he does the same. I pause, he pauses. If this were a tv skit, he’d be my reflection in a non-existent mirror. He looks back at me and I pretend to be intrigued by the bin of frozen fish parts. He lingers. I walk towards where he is but stick to the fish bin. He waits until we are side by side before continuing with his cart as if we are now going to start shopping together. I veer to the immediate left, leaving him stranded as I head back down towards the produce. Now, I would have actually kept shopping but this guy was completely freaking me out so I was now concentrating on just leaving.

The lineups for the cashiers were super long but I found a lineup with only four people ahead of me. I scanned the other lines and to my sheer horror, I see the weirdo as he joins the lane about three lines over. As I spotted him, he spotted me and immediately turned his cart and made a direct route to get behind me. I pretended not to notice. I was now second in line. I stared straight ahead but noticed he pulled up practically beside me. Rather than stay behind his cart, he saunters around to the side, about 3 feet away from me, and leans on his cart with one arm like he’s Tom Selleck and the cart is his Ferrari.

Why couldn't the weirdo look like this?

If it were summer instead of winter right now, I’d suspect he’d have a bushel of chest hair poking through his Hawaiian shirt and a gold chain around his neck. Believe me, this guy was no Tom Selleck and he was about as smooth as a monkey’s arse. I start reading the large print on the CoffeeMate bottle of the lady in front of me. This weirdo is now inching his way closer to me. 2 feet away. I look down and start reading the ingredients in the bacon I’m holding. 1 foot away. Here it comes…

“Well, another weekend is here.” he said. And at this point, I felt sorry for him. Was this the best line he had? I turned slightly to acknowledge him, afterall, he may not be a Tom Selleck or a George Clooney, but he’s still human.

“Yes, another weekend is here.” I said, and returned to my bacon. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of reading contained on the label … like details on two ways to cook bacon as well as handling instructions, ingredients, nutrition facts, chef’s tips, a phone number, website and a variety of interesting logos and seals.

“Just getting off work?” He asked.

I turned slightly again, “Yepppppp.” I replied, looking at him and then glancing at his cart. He had various items in his cart but one item was glaring at me. It sat perched on top of what looked like a container of seafood salad. It was a bonus sized big yellow box of Preparation H. Grrrreat.

“Big plans for the weekend?” he asks, then adds, “You sure eat healthy.”

Obviously he was referring to the romaine hearts, 3 tomatoes, 4 green peppers, cucumber, raspberries, 2 plums, and forgetting the slab of bacon I was clutching onto. “Yepppp, gotta eat healthy.” I said. This was really awkward, and what made it worse was that the CoffeeMate lady now turned and looked at the weirdo.  She looked at him, looked at me, looked back at him, and then turned around while shaking her head. I think she felt my pain. She was probably thrilled that she wasn’t me. For the first time in my life I wished I was a turnip, or that my sister was with me because she would have told him to get lost by now.

The CoffeeMate lady’s turn was up and she handed the cashier the exact change and was on her way. Thank god it was my turn. The cashier started pushing each item through with expertise. I watched as my items one by one started their ride on the second conveyor belt. She sang out my total and I paid with debit. I start putting my first item in the bag when I’m shocked at what happened next.

Suddenly the weirdo hauls out his stack of reusable bags and starts packing his own stuff as soon as the cashier scans them. Oh god no. He’s gonna try to leave at the same time as me now. He’s getting so fast at putting the items in that he takes a box of crackers right out of the cashier’s hand and she barks at him, “I haven’t even scanned that yet!”

Now he and I are in some sort of bizarre race. He was firing his items into his bags with such haste that his hand movements were blurry to me, all while I was struggling to get my plastic bags open. This was just like those nightmares where someone is chasing you and you can’t get your key in the door fast enough to escape. My heart was pounding and I was starting to sweat. The next thing to do was cry.

To someone in an adjacent lane watching this whole scene unfold, it must’ve looked like we were contestants in some sort of strange supermarket bag-packing game show. I imagined that somewhere in Japan there was an actual competition taking place just like this, probably scheduled for right after the Rubik’s cube speed challenge.

My eyes darted to look at the items he had left, then the items I had left. He was catching up quickly. I had two items, he had a few more. I fumbled with the two cartons of raspberries – almost spilling the contents – and frankly I was so panicked about getting out of there I would have left every one of the berries behind, destined to get smooshed into the conveyor belt when it went around the roller at the end – an event that would cause me great heartache any other day. Berries or no berries, I was getting out of there. I picked up the bacon and it slipped out of my hand. I felt like my hands weren’t cooperating with the demands my brain was telling them. Was I suddenly losing muscle control now? I picked it up again but it wouldn’t lay properly in the bag. Damn bacon. My heart was pounding harder now, my mouth was dry. If it didn’t lay properly this next time, it was getting left behind or getting hurled across the store. He was down to only a couple of items. My bangs fell into my eyes. I shook my head in hopes they would migrate to the top of my head. No time to stop now for a hair adjustment. I grabbed the handles of the bags and watched as the cashier slid his last item across the scanner.

“Have a good weekend!” I practically hollered to the cashier and walked with such a hurried step that surely I must’ve looked like I was running to a washroom somewhere. I got to my car and just got in so quickly, I didn’t take time to put the bags on the other seat or even in the back. No sir, I got in the car and sat down with the bags on top of me between my torso and the steering wheel. I turned the ignition and throw the car into reverse, only to see a man directly behind me in his car waiting to turn. I was stuck. And I was parked in the very first spot in front of the store. That meant that everyone looking out could see me in my car. Which meant the weirdo could probably also see me and knew exactly where I went.

The guy in the car behind me pulls out and I can finally reverse. I do, and practically squeal the tires as I make my exit into the lane that leads to the street. I check my rearview mirror and see that he just emerged from the store, looking both directions and I wonder if he was looking for me or not. Hopefully, he’s not secretly a genius – a member of MENSA – and figured out a way to find me again.

The kind of guys that looked at my sister...

During my drive home, I reflect about the incident recalling the whole thing. Life is funny. All my younger years when I went places with my sister men would oogle at her, stare at her, smile at her, wink at her, try to stand next to her and honestly, she could stop traffic. I used to wonder what that would be like. Suddenly I had a taste of it, except while she got longing gazes from real heart throbs, I got looks from brazen old guys with hemorrhoids. Great.

... the kind of guy that looks at me. 'Nuff said.