The Mama Kat prompt that I ended up with this week (via random.org) asks, “What do the contents of your handbag/purse ‘say’ about you?” Oh boy.
When my sister-in-law Ann got her RN degree in May 1993, she had worked so hard. She had two young children and was very pregnant with a third. She chose to spend the graduation gift money she had received on a Dooney & Bourke handbag. Ann, my mother-in-law, some other female relatives and I were standing at Dillards looking at the options when she pointed out the one she liked the most. I said, “That doesn’t look like a “mom of three” purse.” Meaning it didn’t look that practical – no little pockets on the outside to hold stuff, and kind of sleek and trendy looking. She said, in a tone that was a unique combination of flippant and reflective, “Thanks a lot,” as in “thanks for reminding me that I am giving my body, brain, and heart to three little beings on top of being a wife, earning an RN degree, and all of that.”
She got the purse. She loved the purse. When she passed away in her sleep six months later, one of the first things my mother-in-law said was, “I am so glad she went ahead and got that purse that she wanted and she enjoyed it.” I was too.
When Kat asked what my purse says about me, I wondered how I could respond without repeating my sock drawer blog. I decided that I would turn the topic around just a bit to “If my purse were threatened with replacement by a high-end handbag, how would it respond?” Let’s call my purse, for short, B.U.P. for Black/Brown Utilitarian Purse. Let’s say that some handbag fairy has decided to bestow upon me a $400 “high end” purse carrying a girl’s name (you know, a “Kristen” or a “Natalie.”)
B.U.P. to “Natalie”:
Natalie, here are the reasons why it’s just impossible for Paula to be “into” you:
A) She just doesn’t care that much. When her purse was stolen out of her car, she was unable to tell the police anything except, “It was a black thing that I got from Target.”
B) If you don’t have a carrying handle, a shoulder strap (for times when she needs to carry you “city style” to avoid getting mugged), and an outside pocket for her cell phone and Blackberry, no amount of exotic leather trim will make her love you.
C) She will not change purses to match her outfits. So you’re going to be at a party, with all of your brass/walnut brownness going on, and she will be wearing black pants, a silver shirt, silver accessories, and black shoes. Your other high-end named handbag cousins, on the arms of their perfectly coordinated owners, will smirk at you from beneath their clasp closures.
D) She actually knows you and your type pretty well. When it is her job to mystery shop at the store where you are sold, it is a true acting exercise for her to pretend she cares about studded leather trims or chain-link hardware.
E) Between you and me, I don’t mind getting insulted by all the times she throws in the wadded up gum and other questionable substances that come with being the mother of a boy. You, though — you know that would gross you out.
F) If given the option of spending $30 on someone like me or $400 on someone like you, she would, even if she had the money, take the purse for $30 and apply $370 to the trip she has planned to Guatemala to visit the child her family sponsors.
Natalie, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ll find myself languishing here on the dresser watching the cat fantasize about the great big world out there while you and Paula go to work and play. Maybe you’ll grow on her and she’ll be more susceptible to the smell of “luxurious leather” than I would have predicted. If so, I guess I should let you in on the fact that you’ll be listening to a lot of audiobooks as you drive around town.
Books like this:
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.