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Slices of Life: Life-saving grace of large 'pursenality'
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A recent morning news show featured a segment on purses and what a handbag reveals about your personality. I watched with interest since less than 24 hours earlier my purse had saved me from grave bodily injury.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

If purses reveal our personalities, I am a study in contrasts. I jockey between two bags. The first is minimalist: tiny, with enough room for a cell phone, small wallet and maybe a chapstick or pen - but not both.

My other purse is maximalist. It contains everything needed for survival, and then some. In it I carry pepper spray and a mini stun gun because a girl can never be too careful. There's a crank flashlight in case of power outages, a small notebook for when a fabulous idea hits me, gum for garlic situations, a charging cord and outlet thingy for my phone, a blanket and umbrella in the event of inclement weather, bottled water for thirsty times, a brush, mirror and makeup for primping, Pepto Bismal tablets - just in case - and chapstick and pen (plenty of room for both).

Some people have a bag packed with items needed for survival in case of natural disaster or emergency. These are called bug-out bags. I don't need a bug-out bag; I have my purse.

As I alluded earlier, last night my purse nearly saved my life. And it had nothing to do with the pepper spray or stun gun.

My husband, oldest son and I were at a youth football game watching our youngest son. Rain threatened, so I packed not one but three umbrellas into my big bug-out purse. I jammed them in next to the blanket and pepper spray and we were ready for the game - rain or shine or whatever else we might encounter. Prepared is my middle initial.

The rain did come. And the lightning that accompanied it put a halt to the game. As we ran across the road to our parked car, my foot caught on an uneven bump in the pavement and I went down. Fast. And hard. I didn't even have time to see my life flash before my eyes. I didn't even know I was falling until I was lying face down on the road with a car zooming toward me.

My husband was quickly by my side, clearly concerned.

I did what most people do after they've fallen in an embarrassing manner. I hopped up and tried to pretend it never happened. As I made my way to the car I assessed my injuries. Surprisingly, there were next to none. I had two minor scratches on my hands where they'd hit the pavement. Otherwise, I was intact and injury-free. I honestly couldn't believe it.

During the ride home, my husband described the accident. He'd observed the ugly tumble in its entirety and knew why I hadn't done a complete face plant. My purse - jam-packed with three umbrellas and a blanket - hit the ground before me and cushioned my fall. Thank goodness for the threatening rain.

Some say a purse, and its contents, reveals a lot about your personality. Sometimes it shows you to be a survivor, whether that entails pepper spray, gum or a good old blanket. Moral of the story? Never make fun of a girl with a big purse. She (and it) may save someone's life some day. Either that, or offer you an umbrella.

- Jill Pertler's column appears Thursdays in the Times. She can be reached at