Much has been made of womens’ lust for shoes. Think Imelda Marcos or Carrie Bradshaw. But it’s not the Manolo Blancos that get me all fired up. It’s bags. Tote bags, shoulder bags, messenger bags, pocketbooks, purses. A bag by any other name would still be — a bag.
Art laughs at me. I have about 15 reusable bags for groceries. And yet, often I still manage to leave them all in the apartment when I drive off to do errands. Is a canvas bag still green, even if it’s hanging on a hook by the door when you check out at Trader Joe’s?
I recently ordered a “ketch purse” from a mail order catalog. I found it among the overstocks on sale for $14.99. Who could resist? A sturdy canvas bag with “lots of pockets”. I sent away for it. Loden green! I was so excited! However, when it arrived it was black. I was sure I had ordered the green. Oh, well. Back it went, and I quickly ordered its replacement in loden green. Finally, it arrived today. I could barely contain myself! Tore open the box, ripped open the plastic bag, pulled out half a ton of tissue paper, and then it hit me. It was perfect except: I couldn’t fit my wallet in it. Or, I could fit my wallet but not my keys. No room, either, for my oversized sunglasses. Definitely no room for a makeup case. I would have to make do with a lip gloss and a miniature tube of bronzer. I tinkered with it for about fifteen minutes, ran back to my closet to see if I had a smaller wallet. And when I looked up at the top shelf, there they sat, my last two “perfect” bags. The organizers to end all organizers. Both of them perfectly good bags, looking sad and abandoned, like two little wallflowers at a dance. I looked in the mirror, and I knew I had gone off the deep end. I carefully restuffed the tissue paper inside my teeny-tiny loden green bag, put it back in the same box it had arrived in, guiltily filled out the “return form” and admitted that I had misjudged the size (reason #31), slapped the return label on it, and resolved to drop it at the post office tomorrow. I pray I will never hear about this incident again. (But I have a sinking feeling that I will the next time I become infatuated with yet another bag).
The thing is, I am always in search of the holy grail of pocketbooks. I can see it in my mind: Just large enough to hold my wallet, my keys, my oversized sunglasses, a small makeup case, a travel size of Kleenex, my date book, a pen, and my cell phone. Nothing more, and nothing less. I would like it to look smart, but not pretentious. I would like for it to have the look of authority, but not pushiness. The sort of bag you could carry to work (even though I work at home), or to a night out on the town (although we mostly stay home and watch Netflix and Tivo). What I want, in short, is a bag that defines me and gives me an identity. You know, the identity I have always strived for and never quite achieved. The kind of bag that could be worn by a Vogue model along with a Chanel suit. Classic. Post-modern chic. (And of course, all for under $25.00).
And so, the quest continues, one bag at a time, always in search of the elusive enigma wrapped in a mystery. Will I ever find it? Perhaps not. Perhaps, as in so many other things, the joy is in the journey, not the destination. I just know, it’s out there somewhere. . . Maybe Macy’s?