Suitcase Full of Fantasy

By Maureen Friedman

Whether you have the fortitude to travel light (1 top for each day, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of pants and 1 dress!) or bring everything you can stuff into one carry-on suitcase and a tote bag, you have probably encountered one of the modern woman's greatest enemies: the suitcase full of fantasy.

Let me elaborate for the male readers, as well as not-so-modern women who do not, somehow, struggle with this glamorous foe. A suitcase full of fantasy is one that is packed with the ideal version of your vacation in mind. We all know that vacations tend to not turn out the way we envision them as we space out at our desks during the months and weeks prior to our departure.

Let me paint a mental picture for you---this should sound hauntingly familiar. You are going on a cruise to an exotic island location, be it Mexico, Jamaica, or any other island in the Southern Hemisphere. You will be gone a week. Naturally, you will want to pack all clothes that show off your cute body, since you have been dieting for months in anticipation. This includes light layers such as clingy wraps and filmy (read: flimsy) cardigans. You will also need plenty of jewelry and accessories, as well as several pairs of cute sandals and high heels for all those nights at fancy restaurants and sexy nightclubs.

Many of you already know where I am headed with this.

Fast forward to your actual vacation. All that dieting and left you famished and completely unable to refuse the constant barrage of food on your cruise ship, while all those Mai-Thais only make your will weaker and your abdomen more bloated. Food on cruises is just restaurant food, which means even your slice of chocolate cake will be heavily salted. In other words: in 1 or 2 days max, those tight clothes you packed make you feel more doughy than sexy, if you can even still button or zip them. Attempts to cover your bulges with wraps and cardigans are largely futile and only result in ripped and/or sweat-stained (dry clean only) outerwear. By the end of the vacation, the only thing you can still squeeze into is your PJ-esque airplane outfit.

At least you have cute shoes and accessories to show off! That is, if you hadn't forgotten how far those romantic restaurants and sexy clubs tend to be from the dock. And how the temperature on this exotic island is still sitting pretty in the 90s hours after the sun goes down. You will end up carrying your shoes while walking on a dirty (and peddle-y!) road to those restaurants and clubs, peeling off all the jewelry from your perspiring body and shoving it into your tiny purse.

This isn't the first time this has happened. So why do we never learn our lesson? Somehow we dilute ourselves into thinking we can wear something besides shorts and tank tops at Disney World, or that anyone will ever even see the outfits we carefully chose should we visit any destination during winter, when we are swathed in 4 layers of coats, gloves, hats and scarves. And of course we pack all our clothes in the smallest size we can possibly wear, when we should actually pack outfits on a scale from small to extra large, so that we don't have to walk off the gangplank and head toward home naked, and flabby.

If you are a modern woman, interested in fashion with a sizable wardrobe to choose from, you have found yourself in such a situation before, and probably will again---despite my detailed warnings and sound advice. The problem equally affects light packers as well as heavy ones. The light packer will quickly be stuck with literally NOTHING to wear for most of her vacation, while the heavy packer will struggle with the weight of endless useless outfits that she will string together just long enough to make it home. Fat, exhausted, and $100 poorer due to oversize baggage fees.

But I understand. Even I will fight and fail this menace on some vacation in my future. Because I just know, in accordance with Sod's law, if I WERE to pack sneakers and elastic waist shorts, I would inevitably run into an attractive celebrity, be invited to some VIP black-tie event, or be blessed with a slimming tape-worm.

So I will continue to pack for my fantasy vacation and suffer the consequences. At least I know I won't be alone in my ill-fitting, sweat-soaked ensembles---stilettos in hand.

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