So we’re going to take a trip. The trip will take 17 days. For certain people in my family — I’m not naming names here, but it’s my wife — packing for the trip will take a little longer.

I’m already packed, of course. I don’t like to brag, but as I regularly point out to my wife, I actually have a doctorate in packing. I earned it after studying with the noted scholar Gregor Samsonite, who explained to me the importance of first choosing a suitcase. Then you find some stuff that will fit into the suitcase, then you sit on the suitcase to close it, then you pull hard on the zipper to make sure it’s closed and you’re done.

(The key, of course, is to never open the suitcase while traveling because stuff will tend to immediately pop out, and that could be embarrassing while you go through airport security, particularly if you have packed your manually pressurized super-soaker.)

My wife does not have the same skills. This is how she packs:

First, she makes a list. This is a list of everything she doesn’t want to take. This is a very short list. It only includes dark chocolate Dove Bars.

Then she discovers that the red top she was planning on taking doesn’t go with the blue pants, which requires that she bring the blue top as well.

But if she’s bringing the blue top, well, then, she might as well bring the black scarf, as well as the green bag, the white jacket, the turquoise jewelry, the gray oven-proof casserole and another red top so the first one won’t be lonely.

She figures out that the white sandals aren’t appropriate with the pink dress, so she decides after all that she might need the dark chocolate Dove Bars.

She plans on taking a few sweaters in case it’s too cold. But just in case it’s too warm, she decides she’d better pack a pair of shorts, some extra T-shirts and an air-conditioning unit.

Since she can’t make up her mind whether to bring the slim paperback book or the three-volume hardback to read on the trip, she compromises by taking both of them.

After careful consideration, she adds a Turkish-language guidebook just in case we decide at the last minute to drive to Turkey instead of New England.

She chooses a suitcase then determines that it is too small.

She chooses another suitcase and determines that it doesn’t go with the red top.

In my wife’s defense, however, she is trying to do all this packing while I am continually nagging her about her packing skills and reading out loud sections of my packing dissertation, including all the footnotes (ibid, Green Bay Packers, 1972).

It throws her off her game while she is laying out everything on the bed to see if she has missed anything that she needs to take. By accident, she packs two pillows and a quilt.

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