My mom's preoccupation with purses apparently goes back to her own childhood in Poland. Here she is with my aunt, both clutching their handbags. What could they possibly have had that was so important they needed to carry around with them on the farm?
I don’t do purses. Call them handbags, clutches, pocketbooks – I don’t do them.
Sure, I had my share of ”pocka-books” as a kid – the white, faux-leather one I carried on my First Holy Communion, the pink Liz Claiborne that I badgered my mom to buy me in middle school. Even then, I had no practical use for them. The first was a mere photo prop, the other a lame adolescent status symbol (Liz Claiborne purses were huge at the time, you guys). But both purses were pretty much always empty. Save for a few crumpled gum wrappers. And lint.
This is totally the Liz Claiborne pocketbook I begged my mom to buy me in the '90s. Apparently you can buy it on etsy for $12.
Around 13 or 14, I started to rebel against anything overtly girly. And that very much included a purse. So from then on, I stressed to anyone who would listen that what I carried was a bag – a book bag, messenger bag, duffel bag, gym bag. But never, ever a handbag.
I didn’t get it. My friends collected pricey handbags the way my mom collected ceramic knicknacks of farm girls, arranging them in her glass cabinet just so. I didn’t have any interest in collecting and admiring and “arranging just so.” And besides, why all the fuss when my jeans provided me with four perfectly good pockets for storage – and a bonus pair in my coat during the cold months?
I upgraded to a leather satchel when I was old enough to have business cards, a cell phone and a weekly paycheck that required I look somewhat presentable. Still, on weekends I left the satchel at home and stuffed the necessary credit cards, ID, cash and keys into pockets and bra straps. The hands-free approach worked perfectly for me. But it seemed to make everyone else nervous.
“You gonna loose you wallet like that!” my dad would say when I stacked my cell phone, wallet and keys on the corner of a restaurant table.
“Lemme take you to Sears tomorrow and buy you a pocketbook,” my mom would say, gravely. “Please.”
“I don’t do pocketbooks,” I’d say. (I didn’t even touch the Sears part.) Continue reading