Relating over receptacles

I saw a little girl shopping today with her mother. She couldn’t have been more than four, and there she was, walking down the aisle like a woman on a mission, her head held high and her little blue Disney purse flung over her shoulder.

I laugh every time I see a little girl with a purse. If she only knew how many days in her future would be spent walking through a store with that purse.

Purses are a necessary evil. Mine holds the equivalent of a Costco, if you ask my husband, though I maintain it’s on the small side of average. While I wish I didn’t have to be saddled down with it everywhere I go, there’s nothing I can do to prevent that. Girls need stuff.


Purse preferences run the gamut of styles, from tiny, over-the-shoulder bags to huge totes that could hold a Thanksgiving turkey. Mine is a modest bag with medium-length straps, in a lovely brown fake leather of some sort, probably from China. It has several compartments, as it’s important to me to be able to find things and not have to dig around in the abyss looking for a pen.

And what is in this purse, you might wonder? Plenty. Top of the list, most important to any journey, is an adequate supply of lip gloss. I have just under 9,000 tubes in any receptacle with which I travel outside my house. It is my one addiction, and if you ever want to see me beside myself with anxiety, accompany me anywhere there isn’t a tub of Blistex. I offer no apologies for my bag full of lip balms.

Other essentials: gum (multiple packs), cell phone, charger, bank card, points cards from various stores, a small mirror, Advil, something to write with, napkins, hand sanitizer, a few pictures of the kids, an emergency snack, dental floss, Tums, that bracelet I took off in January and forgot about, and six months of grocery receipts. I feel pretty good about my chances if I had to survive a day or two in the wild.

There are few things that will create such panic in a girl’s life as the loss or theft of a purse. Years ago, I decided to leave mine in the car when I went into the movies, taking only my wallet inside the theatre. I hid the purse under the seat, but as the sophistication of Sydney criminals knows no bounds, the thieves were able to sniff it out, break the passenger-side window to grab it, and run off into the night.

You know that feeling when your computer crashes? That sick feeling you get thinking of all the pictures and documents you’ve lost? That’s how it feels to lose a purse. Although my phone was the biggest thing they got, I was distraught over losing my awesome tweezers (that I’ve never been able to buy again), several pictures of my kids, and untold number of Post-Its with information I had never copied down elsewhere.

Luckily for me, the purse, like every other one I own, was inexpensive – from a consignment shop or clearance sale. I was born without that female “must have designer purses” gene, and I don’t have any interest in Louis Vuitton, or Coach, or any of those high-end bags. Some of them are pretty, but I’ve always said, instead of a $1,000 purse, I’d rather have a $20 purse with $980 inside.

If we’re keeping it real, mine is more of a community purse, if anything. Sure, I have all the usual suspects in there, but it also contains a plethora of items that aren’t mine. At any given time you can reach in and find an extra phone, an iPod, hockey cards, granola bar, men’s sunglasses, and Canadian Tire money. And I can assure you, none of that is mine.

When we travel it’s even worse, because not only do I have all my stuff, but I’m the designated keeper of wallets, tickets of any kind, all ID cards, cameras, every necessity. So really, is it “my” purse or “our” purse? I dispute that it’s mine alone, I’m just the one who has to carry it.

So, if you see your lady’s clunky purse taking up space on the counter, it’s important for you to consider a world where you have to carry your own stuff. That purse will grow on you, real fast.