Mine occurred the day the luggage limits on airplanes were changed from number of checked pieces to weight.
I have several talents of which I am especially proud. Number one is the fact that I can literally stand/sit in deep water without moving a muscle or touching anything. Number two, I can whistle without moving my mouth (as long as I'm not smiling). Thirdly, I can pack more into a piece of baggage than their most strenuous tests ever imagined.
Some people advocate the rolling-of-the-clothes method, others the socks-within-shoes-within-shoes. I'm a reckless jammer. I MAKE it fit. My wardrobe is heavy on ironing-not-required articles, and my performance gowns are miracles of efficiency. No billowing ballgown of shimmering red satin with cascading raised roses of delicate silk drawing the eye toward my plunging neckline. When I finish a performance with orchestra, I often take off my impossible-to-wrinkle gown and throw it into my shoulder bag and head off for dinner. The next day I remove it upon arrival for the next performance and slip it on again. The secret is in interesting wraps and jewelry. One of my favorites is a lovely shawl of special silk from France that is actually a tablecloth. Yes, a tablecloth. So handy. I can sing a recital and then host a dinner party with the cutlery elegantly displayed against a stunning purple background. Best of all is the fact that it is a special permanently wrinkled silk. Price quickly became no object (and how expensive could a tablecloth be....oops). The snooty, slightly stunned French woman running the boutique was nonplussed when I began unwrapping her tres chic cloths and wrapping them around myself and trying out different lengths and arm positions.
Packing in general is a very difficult thing in my chosen profession. Often, I fly to Europe for months at a time. I try to limit myself to one large and one small suitcase. In addition to normal day-to-day clothes for rehearsal and general life, I must include workout clothes and shoes, a performance gown and heels, dressy clothes for parties and dinners, and piles of electronics and serious poundage of music to learn for future engagements. Additional problems arise when the time is longer and stretches across more than one season.
It is often that I peer into my suitcase and find myself staring into a black hole. Black doesn't show wrinkles, spills, and works in every situation. I often find myself on a gig buying a new article of clothing that is a shade I would never choose in the real world, but after two months of black-on-above-and-under-black, a tunic that looks like a bag of Skittles exploded all over it seems a welcome change.
Weight limits are 50 pounds before an exorbitant surcharge is applied. I am that person on my knees at the checkin counter moving things from one suitcase to another, moving things to my carryon, donning yet another layer and sweating all the way to my destination to avoid paying this extra fee. Often, my bags are 50.0 and 49.5 pounds.
I wish to take this moment to thank Mike at the Delta counter in Frankfurt, Germany. I heaved my massive bags onto the counter scales and resigned myself to charges around $300, for I had no defense and even I couldn't handle wearing 4 pairs of socks, 3 sweaters, and an extra coat to help cut the weight which had ballooned far beyond the limit. Mike looked at the bags, looked at me, and with a jaunty wink just moved them to the conveyor belt without a word. Mike...oh, Mike. How I love thee.
Therefore, you will understand my deep sigh when unpacking here in Houston. Hidden among the carefully chosen contents of my suitcase was a bag containing the bones from the chicken wings I ate in Milwaukee. I shudder to think what they weighed....