The Weight of Fashion, and Other Delusions

We all have problems that we know, someday when courage permits, must be faced. Could today be the day that I am tough enough?

Maybe I can’t really do this myself. Should I summon professional help?

It is time to excavate the interior of my purse.

I mean, really. I’m ordinarily not one to skirt issues. And yet day rolls into week morphs into month, and the cycle repeats, and I can’t make myself do it. Until finally, when hoisting it to my shoulder prompts an objection from the shoulder’s innermost being, I am finally forced to say to myself, What in the name of all that matters is IN this dadgum thing?

Sometimes it helps to face truth by typing it out in front of you, so here is an (admittedly partial) list of what emerged when I shoved my paw nervously down toward the bottom and began heaving out.

  • Small bag of nuts to ward against poor snack choices when blood sugar is low.
  • Bag of nuts and seeds added because first bag of nuts was hidden by other purse trash.
  • Promotional bag clip. I always need these in the kitchen, but generally don’t search for one in my purse.
  • Eyeglass cleaning cloth, filthy and unusable.
  • Instructional booklet for new sunglasses; when did sunglasses begin to require instructions? (Sun out?  Wear.  Toss booklet.)
  • Monogrammed handkerchief that belonged to my dad. Now, this is a comfort aid that I like having with me, like my granddaughter likes to tote Big Big Bunny for company. But it might better honor his memory if I washed it occasionally, because Dad was a gentleman who was orderly and neat in all things .
  • USB power plug, sans cord.
  • Handwritten cards with “homework” suggestions from therapist. Apparently she didn’t recommend that an orderly purse is a balm to the soul. Perhaps in a future session?
  • Parking garage entry ticket. How did I get out without paying?
  • Envelope for tickets to recent James Taylor concert. What a great show, but apparently, there were no trash cans in the arena?
  • Three metal bottle caps. Three! These mystify me most of all. I’m pretty sure I don’t randomly drink beer in the car or out on the street while carrying my purse. Flavored sparkling water is my travel drink of choice, and those bottles have plastic caps. Perhaps it is best not to think this one through.

I could go on, but it would be too embarrassing. It’s not that this problem has never been called to my attention in the past. Helping to unload my car when I arrived for a recent visit, my active and physically fit brother grabbed the handles of my purse and groaned when he hoisted it. The old joke that inevitably followed—What do you have in here? All your money?—clearly fell on deaf ears. Perhaps I didn’t wish to note that all my money wouldn’t weigh much, but that’s a different tale.

It might be reasonable to blame this problem on flawed fundamentals of Carry Strategy 1.0. This bag, by any standards, is large for a daily purse. In some restaurants, it needs its own seat. The thought process behind up-sizing went something like this: If I carry a “tote”-sized purse, it is big enough to insert a file, or an iPad, or even my laptop (see photo evidence), thus rendering unnecessary another bag, the cursed briefcase. All these things would be feasible if dimensions alone mattered. But you’ve spotted the flaw here, right? These items rarely fit because there is too much other JUNK IN THERE.


Can the problem be blamed on a weakness for fashion? Maybe. A little. Big bags are in, or so it would appear on the streets, or in the elevators of our office building. And I must confess partiality to this particular bag, which has drawn the unsolicited admiration of more than one female under 40 in just the last week or two. What more does a female crave as style validation when she is, shall we leave it here, no longer 40?

This problem weighed heavily, you might say, at the end of a recent weary day when I was followed into the elevator by another woman who looked, like me, so glad to be exiting the premises. Well, lookee there, I thought to myself as she struggled to free a hand to push the her floor button, she’s carrying a tote AND a briefcase AND a lunch bag! My own burden could clearly be worse. Just before the door closed, a man jumped in and cheerily punched his own floor button, both hands fluttering free as two soaring birds. He was carrying: nothing.

It was too intriguing to let this pass. Do you ever wonder, I said to my fellow Bag Lady, why we seem to always carry so much stuff?

“I KNOW,” she lamented, with a tired sigh. “I don’t know why that happens.” We both turned to the male before us, who instantly sensed his vulnerable state. “Hey, I don’t carry things home because I try not to work on the weekends,” he began, reinforcing his hands-free status by throwing both up in self-defense. “And, I mean, I don’t, well, I, just, well, I better not…”. The door opened at his floor, and he vanished.

Bag Lady and I sighed, with no further words exchanged. We both got off at the next floor, shouldered our burdens with difficulty, and strode out to carry on.