Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Purse-uit of Happiness

When I told Huck that most women have multiple purses he went all agape at me.

"It's TRUE!" I insisted.
"Well, how would that even work?!" He asked, as if I'd just described a foursome involving a house plant and a license plate, "Isn't that sort of unnecessarily complicated?"
"I don't know. I imagine they dump the contents from one bag to another and sally forth."
"But why?"

My purses tend toward the small side, just big enough to keep my wallet from making my pants pockets look too manly and my phone from butt-dialing (although my phone has been known to cheek dial while I'm talking. Apparently a rather large smile or my cry-face can dial in someone else to the conversation, which is always what you want when you are bawling hysterically. In that moment what you want is to hear the voice of an aunt you haven't seen in a decade to suddenly interrupt your wailing on your husband's cell-shoulder with "What? Who is this? What's going on?")  I usually also try to have room for lip balm, ear plugs, head ache drugs, pens, and an impossibly small pad of paper that makes me record my thoughts-on-the-go in such abbreviated fashion as to be rendered meaningless, and/or haiku-ish: river, flow, mountains, spring, melt, time, new, always.  However, with my current appointment-heavy, waiting-room lifestyle, I find I need to bring many more amusements with me.  I tire of reading in the waiting room magazines about the Sydney Olympics and Martha Stewart's 2009 Thanksgiving feast. Facebook is great for a few small-print moments of palm-sized amusement.  But I need more: water and snacks, my big full-thought-ready journal and my books (now that I can read pretty well again).  I need several for any mood that might strike: poetry (Billy Collins Horoscopes for the Dead), spirituality (Pema Chodron's The Wisdom of No Escape because I can't escape my head injury), sudoku (in pen! for a higher stakes drama experience) and my current love which I want to marry and make babies with: Just Kids by Patti Smith.  So I've been stuffing my wallet in to a tight-squeeze purse and then dumping that in with my runaway's satchel of provisions and favorite things in a giant reusable grocery-store-branded bag.  And finally I thought: why not a real, honest-to-gosh woman-size purse?

I don't love purses the way most women seem to. They all look the same to me  (except once, I found myself accidentally on the front lines of a fad with a thrilling knock-off giraffe print purse that fancy strangers on the streets of San Francisco commented on).  Generally, I'm not keen on spending money on generic looking things. Wait. Nope. That's not true.  Last year, everyone was obliged to check out my awesome new tires which still give me a little kick every time I get in my car and I'm 100% certain they look like every other tire, except tractor, bicycle, and lawn mower.  But it's really about the performance, grip, and low road noise rather than looks with that foursome. 

To cut down on the high cost relative to the low benefit that makes up my purse ownership, I've checked out the offerings at thrift stores, but used purses apparently give me the creeps.  I can buy a great variety of used items but lingerie, socks, gloves, hats and purses, anything with a terminal insert factor, are all out of the question.  I want these things, especially purses, to be virgin.

Time for a real purse
purse-free or die

Coyote and I ended up at the mall recently and I took the opportunity to peruse the women's purse section at JCPenney, a store that I actually like (Joe Fresh and A.N.A. lines specifically) despite it's stodgy history as being the source of the most embarrassing underwear my mother every bought me as a child (as a young teen I'd specifically requested Garfield bikini briefs, as a freaked out mom of a young teen, my mother specifically heard only "Garfield belly-button covering briefs" which were ridiculous, specifically ridicule-us at slumber parties and in locker rooms).

Coyote was not happy about this wrong turn of events into the women's purse section and soon began to complain of physical ailments, chief among them: "Mom, some thing seems to be wrong with my throat."  "Hmmm?" I intoned as I shuffled around the uninspiring shelves and racks.  "I'm not gagging."  Yes, it was a problem for him that he was in the women's purse section AND he wasn't gagging.

(I inexplicably and habitually seem to describe the purse section as "women's". I have yet to see a "man's" purse section, which would make the women's purse section actually the gender neutral purse section, right?) 

I found a fine, large "hobo bag" (I looked up the terms for purses! And that is one of the weirder ones and, realistically, out of your usual hobo price range. Curiously there are no bags labeled "tramp bags", "bum bags" or even "runaway satchels"!) that settled on my shoulder like it belonged there, squatters rights and all.  And it was turquoise, which has been my color of choice lately.  I tried to sway my family to go 50's turqouise on the trim of our house, but I was out voted. They all staunchly stuck with the classic dark green, "for literary considerations," Huck said. And by that he meant Green Gables which is not even his native religion, but he was required to convert for marriage.  But I got my consolation prize: the two dining room archways. And now this purse.

The purse was too expensive for me.  If I specify the price here, I'll worry that half of my dear readers would be like: holy shit, that's WAY TOO much for a purse.  And the other half would be like: OMG, that's so embarassing, are you sure it wasn't used? Did someone throw up in it?  But those fears are irrational.  What would really happen is that half the people I know would be like: whatev's, I love you just the way you are, purse or no purse.  And the other half would be like: criticize, criticize, criticize (I don't actually know what we're talking about!) Criticize. Cricticize.

Girls and their purses: sheesh! My card from 1978
I returned later, coupon in hand, to find two left.  One was stuffed full of clothes that look like they had a close encounter with the pilfering kind.  And even that was too much prior use for my comfort.  But when the other had a production flaw, I plugged my nose and bought the tainted one, the one with the sullied reputation. And I'm inordinately happy with it. And Huck bought me a shiny turquoise necklace to match. Apparently "turquoise" is a love language.


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