Ladies, a quick poll: Do you pack for The Man In Your Life? Let’s say you two were heading off for a few weeks’ vacation somewhere. You know how to pack for yourself, of course. You know what you need to take and what you can leave, how many pairs of underwear, how many sweaters, and how many of the assorted ladythings you ladies need.
But do you trust him to be as good of a packer? Do you want to peek in that bag before it gets loaded on to the plane, just to make sure? Or would you just feel better doing the packing yourself?
My wife, baby and I just returned from a three-week trip to Ireland. There were the usual stresses involved in with travelling with an infant: a few terse, sweaty moments trying to collapse a stroller to feed it through an x-ray machine and concern that the baby’s crying would disrupt my ability to watch the end of The Descendants. Serious stuff.
But the stress began earlier, before we even left. You see, my wife was worried I wasn’t going to pack enough, not to mention pack correctly. She’d check in every day leading up to the trip, asking how the packing was coming along, wanting to know if I had packed this thing or that thing, even offering to take over folding when she deemed my folding to be sub-par. Eventually, she let me pack in peace — but I could tell it worried her.
Of course, she had reason to worry. There’s nothing anyone is capable of packing that I’m not capable of forgetting to pack. I’ve gone to weddings without cufflinks, without a belt, without socks. I’ve gone to cottages without a bathing suit. While I was annoyed by the constant checking-in, I can understand why she’d want to audit the packing process.
A highly scientific poll conducted during our trip reveals that wives/girlfriends handling packing duties is more common than I ever suspected. One cousin does all the packing for her husband, who couldn’t be more grateful. It’s one less thing for him to worry about, and he knows his wife will think of everything.
Another friend lays out all the things she thinks he’ll need and he gives it a once-over before signing off. It helps that she comes from a long line of packers: her mother has always packed for her father. As the legend goes: Before a weeklong camping trip, the father put his foot down and insisted that he pack himself. His wife gladly agreed and left him to it, only to discover at the campsite that her husband neglected to pack underwear, any underwear. For one week.
Well, I managed to pack for three weeks without forgetting underwear or anything else vital. I’ll admit, though, that knowing I was under watch probably prompted me to be a bit more careful in what I put in my suitcase. Which means her little plan worked.
Paul Beer is a Toronto writer, actor and comedian. You can follow him on Twitter @pauldanielbeer.