Have you heard the saying about being able to tell a lot about a woman from the contents of her purse? I didn’t until I watched the beginning of The Incredibles, one of my favorite movies, which will finally be getting a sequel 10+ years later. But I digress.

The contents of a victim’s purse dumped on the ground during a random mugging, from the beginning of my favorite Pixar movie.

The contents of a victim’s purse dumped on the ground during a random mugging, from the beginning of my favorite Pixar movie.

If you haven’t heard the saying, it’s pretty straightforward. By opening up a woman’s (or man’s) backpack/bag/tote, you can tell any number of things: if the person in question is a student, whether or not she (or he) is a makeup aficionado, how organized or prepared the person is, and furthermore (and probably most importantly), what that person’s favorite snacks are…the list could go on and on.

If you open up my most in-rotation bag (a patent-leather, raspberry colored laptop-purse), I have, among many other things, two EpiPens. Well, technically they’re called both an “Auvi-Q,” which is the brand-new, fancy version of the EpiPen.

So, by looking through my bag, someone would be able to determine that I have some pretty heavy-duty allergies – specifically, nuts. Almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts…and everything that contains any of these: think Nutella, Reese’s Pieces, Snickers – they’re all off-limits.

My allergy story isn’t even remotely cookie-cutter, however (food puns). I wasn’t diagnosed until I was older, so I’m not one of those kids who’s been labeled since birth/childhood.

Nope, I was diagnosed in college.

Whenever I reveal this, most people are confused. Honestly, the whole thing was inexplicable for me for a while. Basically, it goes like this: I have a special kind of allergy that worsens over time (yay for being unique, right?). So, when I was younger, peanuts were A-Okay. As I got older, my stomach would hurt a lot after eating certain foods. Only in hindsight did I make the following connection: whenever my stomach hurt the most, it was right after eating – yup, you guessed it – nuts. In high school, an average Snickers would make me throw up. So, subconsciously, I would eat less Snickers bars. Then, in college, my roommate at the time offered me raw almonds sophomore year…and lo-and-behold, I landed in Christiana Hospital.

Several trips to the allergist later – including skin testing and blood tests – and I had a bona-fide diagnosis: avoid nuts at all costs.

A lot of times I’ll say nonchalantly that this nut-allergy-thing doesn’t bother me…when secretly, all I want to do is just eat some Nutella and let the chips fall where they may. Which is sadistic to my body, I know (so I don’t). But you know how sometimes you have an urge to do something that you recognize is totally dangerous and an absolutely horrible idea – but you still kind of want to try it anyway? That’s how I feel whenever I walk past the nut aisle in Pathmark or my roommate’s stash of nutty foods.

My roommate’s line of things that could kill me: note the peanut butter, peanuts, tagalongs, and almonds.

My roommate’s line of things that could kill me: note the peanut butter, peanuts, tagalongs, and almonds.

But rest assured, in reality, I’m far too terrified to actually do anything of the sort. Generally, having an anaphylactic reaction makes an individual eager to avoid the experience in the future. Coming to terms with never being to consume these foods again has been strange, and definitely hard at times.

Going back to the prophetic abilities of a woman’s bag: they can reveal broad facts, like an allergy or a makeup obsession. One thing, though, that a woman’s bag (or man’s backpack or man purse a la Zach Galifianakis, since I don’t want to be gender exclusive) doesn’t reveal is the story behind each object.

zach g

No explanation needed.

So even though a random thief rifling through my bag might find an Auvi-Q epinephrine injector, that person would not know the story behind my Auvi-Q.

An object might expose a fact, but only a person can explain the story.

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Chelsey Anne Rodowicz

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