Saturday, July 13, 2013

Wee Purse

Once I carried a striped cloth bag (that I purchased for $2 from Target) as a purse. I used it until the handle started to tear from the weight of being over-stuffed. Another time I used a mini hand-tooled leather backpack, I spent what I consider quite a bit on that (meaning more than $2). I’ve never really bought into the designer handbag hoopla. I don’t much care what is cool, and anytime I approach an accessory with a large price tag I can hear my Bohemian Grandmother in my mind, “That’s a sin.” She used to say that whenever she found something highly over-priced. Like $2.99 for spearmint jelly leaves.

We never discussed handbags, but I can hear her just the same. Though once on a trip to a city with the initials NYC I did purchase a few fancy bags from a guy with a walkie talkie. Apparently Dooney & Bourke and Coach bags mean something to someone, because the recipients of the bags were pleased and I never mentioned they were $10. Cash only. I just wanted to know what it was like to buy something from one of those vendors that yank the metal doors over their shops whenever the cops drive by. Don’t judge me. Writers need to know this stuff. 

Normally my handbag criteria is all about function first. Is there a place in the bag for my phone so I don’t have to root for it? You so do not want your phone blasting a Vampire Weekend ringtone while you dig for it during Vespers at the local monastery. Not that fashion never comes into play. I like fun stuff too, or a pretty bag now and then. But every single time it has led to the dreaded buyer’s remorse. The most expensive purse I ever owned was purchased on impulse at Macy’s. It was made of buttery soft leather, and once I touched it I was lost. For at least a week I enjoyed that beautiful bag. It fit beneath the seat in front of me on the airplane too. It fit into the hotel safe even. I lifted it out of the hotel safe. It had absorbed the black paint inside the safe, so that the leather now had black markings over it. I flipped it over. The bottom was now blue, the color of airplane carpet blue. That buttery soft leather was apparently blotter paper. I should have returned it to the store. Like I keep receipts. (Not entirely true, I keep them all, it is locating them at will that I have trouble with.)

So for some time I’ve been more of a bargain pocketbook hunter. I found an excellent black and silver bag that met my under the airplane seat/hotel safe/fits on the console of my time travel jeep criteria. I carried it for ages, and this spring I spotted a lovely bright bag and picked it up. It performed very well while traveling, though I did notice that the airplane had an unpleasant odor. Not to mention the hotel. It wasn’t until I returned home, and spent several days cleaning my room, and randomly throwing clothes back into the laundry to re-wash that I realized that the odor haunting me was coming from the new handbag. I tossed it into my closet (because I couldn’t just THROW IT AWAY, my Bohemian Grandmother would haunt me for pity’s sake!) and went in search of a new bag.

An Actual Wee Purse
Perhaps I should not admit that I went through racks of purses at TJMaxx sniffing them, but I did. This was just hours before I was leaving on a trip into the Canadian wilderness. Dear Hubby couldn’t fathom why I had to have a new bag to spend two weeks holed up in the bush beneath mosquito netting. It wasn’t the bag! I couldn’t take the 13 hour car ride with stinky purse. So I made an emergency trip to pick up a new bag. Scored a pretty awesome gold bag too, stuffed more things into it than would fit, forced the zipper shut, tossed it into the truck and we were off. A few hours into the trip I started. “Do you smell something?” To which they both replied that they didn’t. I picked up the new bag. Sheesh. Faint, but the same smell. “Smell my purse,” I said. To which my son replied firmly, “No.” “Oh, don’t be a little girl, smell my purse.” “No.” Dear Hubby had to. He married me. I have to go on fishing trips even if I don’t fish. He has to put up with random purse sniffing demands.

Dear Hubby said my new purse smelled just like a new purse. Man. They don’t smell it…maybe it’s allergies. Maybe I have some weird allergies where it makes things smell bad. Maybe it’s migraine…maybe it’s something else, what is inside the bag that might smell? Cue me rooting through every item in the bag and then vehicle searching for the source and returning to the new handbag. “You really can’t smell anything?” To which they both replied, “Nope. Nothing.” “Well, I have a cold though,” admitted one. “Yeah, my allergies are bad. I can’t smell a thing lately,” said the other.

Wee Purse II
Let me just add this caveat. You do not EVER want to be on a fishing vacation with two guys who can’t smell anything. A few days into the trip the propane refrigerator died. With fish in it. “Um…do you guys smell something?” “Nope. Nothing.” “Well, I have a cold though…what does it smell like?” “Um…sorta like DEAD FISH!” But I digress.

During the entire vacation I kept my new purse inside several plastic bags to contain the smell. Frankly after the dead fish in the refrigerator it seemed a small thing. Once I returned home and started unpacking, I let it air out inside my closet – to dissipate the scent somewhat. Determined to live with it, I’ve been carrying it around in my hand. You know, as opposed to over my shoulder? Further from the nose. Yesterday I had other women in the car with me and stinky purse and someone said. “What is that smell?!” This actually thrilled me! They could smell it! “What does it smell like?” I asked innocently, hoping against hope for some validation. One of them blurted, “A dirty hamster cage.” THANK YOU! I’d been thinking wet diaper, but same thing.

Needless to say I am once again in the market for a new handbag. Any suggestions? I’d like to offer my wee bags free to you, but mailing them would be a pain. Am thinking I’ll just post this blog on a local free cycle page and see what happens. As my guys proved, not everyone can smell, right?


  1. I recommend the canvas/cloth/denim ones at Walmart. They come in nice notebook sizes, have a small zipper pocket on the outside for phone purposes (they work best with a wallet) and depending on which one you get they also have various other pockets. And despite what the label says, they are machine washable - just don't wash them with anything that snags.
    Second hand stores are also good places to look. The bags that end up there have already been tested for funky smells and design flaws, and sometimes you get a nice one.
    Or if you want to wait till the movers come, I'll send you one of my unused ones... :P

  2. I am the bag lady! Love my bags! TJ Maxx is a great place to get them too! I like leather, the real stuff. It has to open wide so I can see all the contents and the more accessories, the better! I do own one of those $500 jobbers, but relax,it was given to me. It meets none of my criteria for a bag,except the leather thangy, so I never carry it. It's lime green and goes with nothing in my closet, but how can you get rid of such a nice present? "One day I'll buy the perfect outfit for it." I keep telling myself, but lime green really isn't my color. sigh...

  3. Okay, first of all, we are so meant to be friends. I can so relate to NOT going gaga over fancy bags. The first purse I ever loved was a backpack leather purse my then boyfriend (now Hubs) mailed me just cuz from Miami. Not my birthday or Valentines or even Christmas. So, years laters, I shopped for, another backpack purse. They're sort of in again, and can you believe I found one at a store in Queens that was closing down. Black. Light. Cute. And great price-tag. Can you believe I didn't even know it had a silver metal tag until I brought it home. Which read, you'll never, guess… PRADA! Geesh! Now I feel special. Tried ripping it off, but then there'd be a gaping stitch trail so I left it. AND now I know I own a knock off purse, cuz there's no way a PRADA bag woulda cost that little. But lucky for me, it doesn't smell. :) Happy Bag Hunting! Hope you find the perfect fit. And Scent! :) -raj