by Lynda Hollenbeck
Finding the perfect purse is no easy task.
It's a project the faint of heart should avoid at all costs because the quest is fraught with frustration and aggravation.
Whenever I find one I really like, it's a foregone conclusion it will wear out almost by the time I get all my stuff inside.
If it's really tacky, it will last till the proverbial cows come home.
I've found that most purses are either too big, too little, too plain, too fancy, too something.
My biggest problem is finding one with enough space to accommodate all my stuff— and I assure you that every bit of it is of value — but still be able to remain upright while carrying it. All of my bag's contents may not appear to be necessary to someone else, but to me this is critical material — the kind of vital goods that countries go to war to defend.
I just dare someone to tell me I don't need the theater program from the last show I saw at the Orpheum in Memphis. It makes me feel better every time I run across it, so it must stay.
And don't even think about trying to talk me into leaving my makeup bag at home. It contains about eight tubes of lipstick in shades I like and some I don't, but a woman can change her mind. And, as a frustrated chemist, mixing shades is routine for me.
I also carry bank statements, current and sometimes old bills, greeting cards, letters, etc. My late spouse often referred to it as my portable office. He wasn't far wrong.
It also will hold about a dozen ballpoint pens, which will be left at various places. I'm sort of like Robin Hood when it comes to pens. I forget to put one back lots of times, but I think I leave more behind than I take, so I should be forgiven on Judgment Day.
I would have been fodder for persecution had my purse been selected for Art Linkletter to examine on his old "People Are Funny" TV show. He would have had a field day with it — if he could have picked it up.
Frequently I've found a purse I liked and, although it wasn't designed to hold all the items I insisted on putting in it, I just crammed them in and forced them to fit anyway. If it happened to be a zippered bag, the zipper was the first thing to go. And as any woman will tell you, as the zipper goes, so goes the purse.
Later, I came up with what I thought was the perfect solution when I matched a tapestry purse with a tote bag and carried both. I had a matched set.
In the beginning it was a fine way to handle the problem of finding everything. If it didn't turn up in one bag, it was bound to be in the other. Then Ed came in with another tote in the same tapestry pattern and I added still more things to it. Ultimately, I couldn't carry the three bags with the only two arms I have. I either needed a third arm or my personal slave.
Neither materialized, so I went in another direction. I bought a backpack. Not one featuring a cartoon character or any wild print, but a sedate, leather one that at first glance appeared to be an oversized purse.
For the first time ever, I could get everything in it and that was reason to celebrate. But with that accomplishment came a new problem. When I got really tired, I couldn't lift it.
At those times I would drag it, sort of like I do the garbage when I've filled up a trash bag with more stuff than my little body can manage.
A number of years ago when an accident forced me to use crutches for several months, having no way to carry my purse added frustration to what was already a trying situation. My husband was the purse-toter when he was with me, and friends and co-workers were kind enough to do it at other times. I hated to ask for help, but try as I would, I just couldn't carry my purse around my neck and remain standing.
One time I had a brown, leather-like doctor's bag-shaped purse. I liked it better than any one I've ever had before or since because most of the time I could find what I was looking for. It wasn't too big or bulky and it opened up wide enough that I could dig and see at the same time, which isn't commonplace with this feminine accessory.
History repeated itself. I taxed the lining too much and the zippered compartment quit zipping, but I used it as long as the outer bag held up. Eventually, it had done all it could and it had to go the way of all other purses — far, far away.
Currently, I have several purses I use depending on what I'm wearing. This is really silly on the surface, but I've gotten into the bright colors mode and I just can't go anywhere carrying a hot pink purse while wearing an orange jacket. It's too much, so I'm continually switching them.
If I were to let heredity rule the day, I would emulate my mother, who carried a pocketbook just like the one Queen Elizabeth still carries.
When I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, I watched Her Majesty with bag in hand as always.
But that's just too intimidating for me. First off, you can't get enough stuff in that kind of bag; and, secondly, I would feel that I was infringing on the two matriarchs' style.
There are some mountains just too high to climb.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.