Entertainment » Vol. 14

Firmly in the Clutches of My Purse Issues

By Alisa Singer

humormultiple-purses-illustration72I don’t require years of expensive therapy to come to grips with this issue. I am prepared to acknowledge it up front: I have a commitment problem. Not as far as people are concerned ~ I have a number of friends dating back to pre-kindergarten and a husband of almost 27 years. I’m talking about my inability to commit to a purse. Mating oneself to a handbag is just too critical a decision for me to get over. After all, no other accessory, article of clothing, or member of my family is as attached to me as closely, or spends as much time with me day in and day out, as my purse. I should clarify that I am referring to my everyday purse, not the occasional dressy evening bag or the abbreviated run-out-to-a-movie kind, neither of which need measure up to the rigorous standards required for an acceptable everyday purse.

And what are these exacting standards? Every woman has her own, of course, but here are some of mine. The purse must be: 1. appealing in color, 2. made from very soft leather (I’ve tried other fabrics and they just don’t cut it), 3. configured with the right number of inside and outside pockets and zippers, each properly sized, 4. light (at least before I load it up), 5. not too expensive, 6. equipped with two shoulder length straps for easy access, 7. devoid of any brand markings, and 8. sufficiently capacious (Dickens loved to use that word and it works here) to hold all of the essential items, which include, in my case: wallet, sunglasses, credit card holder (both the mini version for the most often used cards and the expanded version that includes only occasionally used items like voter registration card, museum memberships, receipts, store credits, department store credit cards, etc.), hand calculator, daily planner, Blackberry, check book, inspirational journal, address book, note pad, car and house keys, pen/pencil case, train schedule, and office security pass. Plus I use separate holders for various and sundry items including, but not limited to: photos, candy (this container also holds Advil, dental floss and gum), lipstick (accommodates up to 3 shades), tissues, coffee creamer and artificial sweetener packets, batteries, business/appointment cards, eye drops, and other assorted items. (If you had any question of my age or time of life you should be able to resolve it by figuring out which intimate items are not included on this list.)

On days when I’m required to make the magical transition from office to evening I may also carry toothpaste, toothbrush, an assortment of cosmetic reinforcements, deodorant and hair gel. Now when I say “capacious” I mean big enough to allow the hand to roam freely through the contents but not so big that (i) everything floats around in a bottomless pit or (ii) the bag would have to be checked at the airport. Finally, the purse must be stylish and aesthetically appealing in a you-know-it-when-you-see-it kind of way, i.e., in a word, cute.

You would think that when, after long and painful searching, I finally settle on a purse that meets all of these requirements, I would cling to it forever. Well, for a moment I do actually believe it’s the real thing, that I’ve found “The One” and will never need to look for another. But almost as soon as I’ve transferred the contents of my old purse and headed out the door with my new arm candy swinging jauntily from my shoulder, my attention is caught by a snazzy little number winking back at me from a store window or displayed seductively on a table at Macy’s ~ attractive and obviously available ~ and I begin to waver. Now I wouldn’t want you to consider me promiscuous. Think of me, rather, as a serial monogamist with a passion for purses and a chronic wandering eye. And who could blame me ~ all those soft, supple leathers in more colors than a 64-count box of Crayola crayons and in every imaginable size and shape, those cunning zippers and snaps, all those cleverly placed pouches and pockets, even the occasional bow or adorable dangly thing…Well, therein lies my weakness, my inability to commit. I am just way too much in love with purses to ever be faithful to any one for very long.

Occasionally I will find a bag that suits me so well that we’ll spend an entire season together happily “dating.” But when that same season rolls around the following year, as fond as my memories may be of our times together, I can’t quite bring myself to give up the excitement and possibilities of a new relationship. So off I go, seeking the one thing that even the perfect handbag can’t provide ~ variety. And what happens to my castaways? They end up on the proverbial (and in this case literal) shelf with all my other ex-purses. Every so often I will pull one off the shelf, like the guy flipping through his black book calling up his old girlfriends, but after a few “dates” I remember why we broke up in the first place.

So this is me – good for a season then goodbye, old lug ‘em and leave ‘em. And I’m no more likely to change than that playboy with the black book because, truth be told, neither one of us really wants to settle down. Besides, this is the only area in my life where I allow myself to be a little irresponsible. (Still, it’s very lucky I don’t have the same problem with my good jewelry.) You might wonder if this weakness of mine, this flaw in my otherwise prudent nature, enables me to sympathize just a little with the men, the “players” if you will, flitting from woman to woman, “loving” them all but unable to commit to just one. The simple answer is, well, actually ~ no.

Alisa Singer’s humorous essays have appeared in a variety of print and online newspapers and magazines across the country and in Canada. She is the author of the books I Still Wanna Be A…, an illustrated collection of whimsical poetic fantasies in which she “morphs” herself into her childhood heroes, and My Baby Boomer Memory Album, an album to memorialize the first grand child, social security check, chin hair and other milestones of the second half of the boomer’s life. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website: www.AlisaSinger.com or contacting her at ASingerAuthor@gmail.com.

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