Saturday, July 19, 2008
I Own The Purse
We were on vacation. My husband, our two teenage kids and myself. It was an enjoyable getaway, perusing the craggy streets of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. But I was becoming irascible. It was hot, my feet were hurting, and throughout the entire trip, my husband and my son kept asking me to carry things. It started out innocent. A simple request to hold some sunglasses or concert tickets while they roamed freely like hippies at Woodstock. Meanwhile, I was getting more and more bogged down and more and more grumpy.
Now, over the years, I have become accustomed to being the family pack mule. Once a woman carries a kid in her stomach for nine months ... well, there's always something to carry. But my husband and son kept asking me to carry more and more stuff. To the point where my purse was overflowing and it was the gosh-damned hilliest town on planet earth and we still had a lot of walking to do. So I was beginning to resent the fact that two healthy, capable men expected me to carry all their shit. What am I, a Sherpa? Allergy medicine, cameras, batteries, souvenirs, sunglasses, maps, pamphlets, water bottles, doggie bags, tickets ... you name it, I carried it, uphill, both ways, in ninety-degree heat, over one shoulder like a billy goat leaning to the right for most of the trip. I carried their stuff. Why? you ask.
Because I own the purse.
To understand this story, you must first understand the purse. A purse is not just an accessory like a belt, or earrings, or shoes, casually discarded at the end of the day. A purse is an extension of oneself. A true part of our being. Like marsupials, we women were meant to carry things. And through some sort of chimera-like, capitalistic evolution, we developed an alternative pouch, a womb called the purse. A much more fashionable and autonomous reservoir, which may be discarded and upgraded each and every season. It's very practical. And yet, very primitive.
So hopefully you will understand why, on this last leg of our summer Griswald vacation, before leaving the hotel, with my head sweating, feet aching, and a purse that weighed about ninety-eight pounds, I went berserk when my husband casually asked, "Hey can you put these Rolaids in your bag?"
"So that's how it goes! A long time ago I carried your two children each nine months in my belly and now for the rest of our lives you expect me to carry your stuff!"
He gave that where-the-hell-did-that-come-from look. But I was onto something. I suddenly had this epiphany and it all went back to that Da Vinci Code thing ... the womb being compared to the holy grail ... my marsupial theory ... and the real reason why women love their purses so much ... we were meant to carry things. It's in our genes. So I crammed the Rolaids in and drug my ass up another hill.
Unsurprisingly, throughout the remainder of our trip, I began to notice women and their purses. Like cars, they do tell a lot about ones character. First, I saw a fashionable woman with a plausible looking knock-off standing in line at a fancy gift shop. She was the superficial type, shopping alone, probably nothing but credit cards and cash register receipts in that purse.
Next I noticed a simple black purse whose owner was super-model thin and wearing lustrous red lipstick. I imagined her to be carrying her ID, that same red lipstick, and a twenty dollar bill, hidden, just in case of emergencies.
Then there were the gals like me. Who had been declared the family pack mules, schlepping fourteen pounds of crap, uphill, in the heat of June, looking like a frump, cursing the very deign of feminine existence. Needless to say, I was ready to ditch the purse.
Until unexpectedly, in a store window, the clouds parted, a light shone and the weight of my burdensome baggage lifted. There it was, the perfect purse. A brown leather carry-all, not too big, not too flashy, perfectly perched high upon a dusty retail throne, just waiting for it's one true owner. It was then I discovered the true power of allurement. For somewhere upon the top of great mountains a purse store must exist. How else could one explain trekking such distance? Entranced I gravitated toward the purse and practically wept. It was then my daughter, in a purse-like trance of her own, approached and said, "That sure looks like you mom." And I thought to myself, well, if you're going to be the one carrying things, you may as well do it in style.
Dedicated to my son and husband for whom I shall always carry things. And my daughter who loves purses almost as much as she loves soup.