A Modern Day Bottom Drawer

Whilst reading a novel set in the 1920’s, I came across the phrase her bottom drawer and I remembered my Grandma telling me about what a girl should collect for her bottom drawer in preparation for married life.

Traditionally a woman would accumulate linen, clothing, cutlery etc. The bottom drawer was either a literal or figurative place to store things for her future. This got me thinking.

I’ve been with my husband for twenty-six years. I feel well qualified to talk about what a woman needs for married life, and cutlery ain’t it.

We have two daughters and they may or may not decide to get married one day. What would I advise them to store in their bottom drawer if they were heading towards a long-term relationship? The things I’ve come up with aren’t what you might expect.

(Note: pronouns interchangeable for same sex relationships)

Mattress Topper. Remember the days when you fell asleep with your head on his chest? He’d wake up with a paralysed arm from your weight and you’d wipe the dribble off his pecs and smile at each other? That honeymoon period is short and soon a good night’s sleep will trump any bodily contact between the hours of 11pm and 6am, so I prescribe a mattress topper.

The key to this purchase is that you only buy a single. Put the topper on your side so you are a number of centimetres higher in the bed than him. No longer will he roll onto your side and snore directly into your mouth.

Talking of snoring, buy earplugs. Between the mattress topper and the earplugs, I may just have saved your relationship and your spine. You can thank me later.

Gift Bags This only applies to those of us who are tasked with remembering every birthday (including his family, the children, the children’s friends), buying the presents, wrapping the presents, delivering the presents… Who am I kidding? That’s all of us.

Life is too short to spend it finding the end of Sellotape. Every time you see a special offer on gift bags of any size, buy them. Just as my mum gathered up the discarded wrapping paper and folded it carefully to use again, I collect those shiny bags. My family know it is a crime to write on a gift tag label, rendering it useless for regifting.

A Sense of Humour. Monogamy was initially intended for humans whose life span was around forty years. If a person married at eighteen, they could expect to be single again after twenty-two years. The end was always in sight, even if it was due to the plague or the sapping effects of having thirteen children.

Whilst I’m not advocating the extinction of marriage (although my husband and I have discussed the option of a renewable rolling contract) I do think you need a sense of humour to cope with living with the same, increasingly curmudgeonly person for decade upon decade. You have to be able to laugh together, at each other and at yourself.

Nasal Hair Trimmer. Around the age of thirty-five your partner is likely to grow hairs from his nose which will make you feel queasy. Buy him a nasal hair trimmer and if he objects, pretend to be removing an eyelash from his face, then wiggle the nasal hairs. This will tickle like hell (try it) and make him aware just how far they’re protruding from the orifice.

The real reason you’re investing in this gadget is that, come forty, you’re going to need one too, so better to borrow his than admit the truth.

You will also need tweezers, and not just for your eyebrows…

Portable Mobile Phone Charger. My phone is dead is no longer a viable excuse when you can get a portable charger the size of a tampon. As long as your phone is charged, you can get a cab, text to say you’re running late or search for when the next bus is due. Safety and communication – two of my favourites.

Garlic Press. I feel the need to put something kitchen-related in because even the most reluctant chefs have to offer to cook sometimes. Everything tastes better with garlic, but chopping it is time-consuming and smelly. Whilst I’m on chopping, get a knife sharpener.

A Sense of Self. I think this is the most crucial thing of all. If your child knows who they are, is confident enough to be completely themselves with their partner and expect to be accepted with all their flaws and foibles, then they don’t need fancy linen or even a garlic press. If they choose their life-partner from a position of knowing what they want and need in life and are willing to return that favour to another person, then they’ll probably find their bottom drawer is already full. No pressure, but it’s probably down to you to give them this most valuable of gifts. It’s cheaper than silverware, and a lot more precious.

I’d still buy a nasal hair trimmer though, just to be safe.

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