Sometimes I wonder about my own sex. How can women be so fickle?
They abandon, they discard, they switch — like it’s no big deal, like the words commitment and loyalty meant nothing. I always shake my head when I meet them or read about them. Don’t they know how significant their relationships with their purses are? I guess not.
I’m the old-fashioned type, faithful as a dog. I buy a new purse once every several years and take it very seriously. Usually, I spend too much, which cements the relationship immediately. I have to recall what Pat, my mentor, says about amortization: The longer and more frequently you wear or use something, the greater bargain it becomes. Or something like that. Every time Pat explains it to me, I’m in some kind of shame spiral about a recent purchase and can’t concentrate too well. But she always explains her amortization theory with so much conviction and verve it’s like being slapped in the face. You know, the female friendship version of tough love. It hurts, but it works.
My current love object is a well-worn black leather Ferragamo. We have been together through droughts and downpours, parts of two presidencies, West Texas and Croatia, stock-market highs and recessions. We have bonded completely. I hardly recognize my arm without my purse on it. But we are having problems together.
Don’t get me wrong: My Ferragamo is still a very attractive purse with many years of service ahead of her. It’s not her fault; it’s mine. I have changed — or at least part of me has. My damned shoulder is giving out, carrying this heavy purse around all the time, with its interior load of everything I might need if I were ditched on a desert island for all of eternity.
My shoulder slants, it aches, it’s screaming for me to stop. (Don’t tell me to change shoulders. I’m talking about my good shoulder. I’d have to be hospitalized if I carried it on my right shoulder a/k/a the bad one.) I am now officially lopsided, sloping to the left both physically and politically. I would do a lot for my purse, my faithful companion of so many years, but it’s not like I’m a sherpa or something. Enough!
So, with the help of a sharp, energetic saleswoman at Coach, I found my new squeeze. Smaller and lighter and — yes — younger. This new purse understands me and my needs. It won’t slow me down.
Carefully, deliberately, I transfer items from my old, trusty Ferragamo to my new Coach. This time, I tell myself, I will only carry necessities. I will lighten my load. I won’t make the same old mistakes. I’ll make new, different, better mistakes.
The first 24 hours pass lightly and blissfully. But when I go out, I realize I need to expand my definition of “necessities” to include my compact. And a pen. And a small writing tablet.
“I’ll bet,” my husband said, quite unhelpfully, “that your new purse is going to end up weighing as much as your old one. Wouldn’t that be funny?”
No, that would not be funny. Not at all. When you’re in a new relationship, you never need to be reminded that you carry your own baggage no matter who you’re with.
Besides, I remind myself, what do men know about purses?
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read one of my favorite posts about the mommy wars a/k/a the battle that won’t die