$3.60 for a purse... what a deal! Thrift stores are filled with great money saving options, and many feature half-off …
They say you can discover the state of a woman's life by looking at the state of her purse. Now who exactly "they" are I am unsure of but "they" must exist somewhere as "they" made the statement. I have been thinking on this and know in my case the statement is definitely true-my purse exactly matches my life. I wondered if this were true for other women and decided I would investigate.
The smart thing to do would have been to start by asking women I knew to see what the inside of their purses looked like. Alas, I do not always think rationally and began my game at an irrational starting point-in line at the grocery store.
An elderly woman stood in front of me, she watched the register screen fiercely. I watched her purse, waiting for her to open it so I could give it a peek. She kept glancing at me and then held her purse tighter. I just smiled nonchalantly. The checker shouted her total and the woman opened her purse. Bingo! My eyes dove right in. The woman, with lips pursed tightly, began to rifle through her wallet for bills while clutching tightly to her bag. I was trying to peer deeper at the meticulously placed items in her purse; a change purse much worn out, eyeglass case, letter with a perfectly placed stamp…
"What do you think you are doing?" she inquires.
I smile and say, "Nothing." The checker looks up at me and snaps her gum then rolls her eyes.
Still I am attempting to see the inside of her purse as the old woman carefully counts her change. She notices. "I will call for security if you look at me again." she snipes. I see she is somewhat frightened.
"I'm sorry. You see I have been wondering about purses…"
"Please move away from me right now." she insists.
The checker is laughing as I step out of line, blushing from head to toe, and move to the next one open which is three aisles down. Point proven…uptight purse…uptight lady. (Of course it couldn't be that she thought I was casing her purse!)
I decided this was the wrong way to go about this unless I wanted to wind up in an embarrassing situation. Maybe I should say another embarrassing situation.
Here is what I know about my mother's purse; every item has its place, she always knows exactly where her money is and how much she has, all change is in a change purse, nothing loose to fumble for on the bottom, the pen is in the checkbook register and not leaking ink in the lining, Kleenex are one of those portable packs and not covered in makeup or crumpled and used. My mother's purse is neat and tidy and well organized. She wouldn't be ashamed if the airport security decided to rummage around inside. My sister's purse is also well organized though it is a giant bag we lovingly refer to as "the pickle purse" as it is a horrid shade of green. Both of these women in my life are as organized and well put together as their bags. Point proven again.
One woman friend, she is a numbers person, constantly adding and figuring figures. She does my math for me when I need to figure out some obscure equation for some obscure reason. Her purse is neat. She has a little billfold with receipts carefully filed in it. She always knows when she bought something and she holds onto each receipt for a designated amount of time until she feels it is safe to through it away. She also knows how much money she has and where it all is. Her gum she carries is always in the wrapper and she never has to pick any lint off of it before she gets to blow a bubble. The other day she handed me a check and said, "Put that in your purse right now before you lose it."
I, of course, shoved it in my pocket instead. She again said to put it in my purse. I didn't and I dropped it in a puddle on the way in the house.
The next time we speak, she asks if I lost the check yet. I tell her that yes in fact I dropped it in a puddle. She asks if I want her to write another. I explain that I took it to the bank wet and told the teller what happened.
"You took a wet smeared check to the bank? Did they cash it?"
"Well yeah. They laughed but they cashed it."
(Bet you are wondering what my purse looks like by now aren't you? Don't worry I'll get to it.)
Next is Cousin Susie. I ask what kind of shape her purse is in and she says completely immaculate. This surprised me as we are much alike and I inquired further. She tells me she's a control freak and her purse is always organized. She explains that this is why she goes nuts when something happens beyond her control or is out of order and why I am just nuts all the time and why we get along so well.
At work, I explained to my coworkers what I wanted. I decided to make it a little more interesting and guess before opening their purses what state I would find them in. My supervisor was easy, I guessed organized because she is so efficient. She has a cute purse and it was perfect inside except for one wayward receipt. "Oh that doesn't count because I just went to the store last night and didn't get rid of that yet." I believed her and excused the receipt. As I opened each bag I guessed and each guess was right. Most were well cared for purses, well cared for lives. One was a little iffy and messy, but she is also excused because she knows exactly where everything is in her purse. Only one purse other than mine was an absolute atrocity. I looked into my coworkers face and saw how tired she was.
"Do you feel your purse matches your life?"
"Exactly." she gulped.
"Can I have one of the candy bars in there?" I ask.
"Yeah, help yourself." A kindred spirit to chaos this coworker of mine is.
Now for the grand finale, ta-da! The outside first-I carry a uniquely strange purse. It looks like a stiletto shoe with laces up the front and pictures of Elvis grace both sides with scattered rhinestones. It is something that people comment on or compliment every day since I started carrying it. But I carry it because I like it.
My purse seemed to hang heavy over my arm at one point so I finally talked myself into the project of emptying it out. Oh the inside is what horror stories are made from. Heavy it was because I carried nineteen dollars in loose change on the bottom and never noticed-most of it pennies because I just have a hard time spending them. I wonder how I never heard all that coin jingling. Papers leak out the top and constantly get stuck in the zipper. Receipts I kept transferring from bag to bag that I have no idea what they are for or why I kept them. Coupons! Well they aren't expired when I shove them in there but they are by the time I remember and want to use them. My Epi-pen (for bee stings) with the lid off and I am lucky I don't inject myself by accident anytime I get courage to stick my hand inside. My favorite lipsticks that I can never find are crushed into the lining on the bottom. Gum enough to stock a convenience store but not one piece truly edible or should I say chewable. Business cards of people I don't know or choose to forget line the pockets along with expired insurance cards and appointment cards for doctors visits I wind up calling about because I can't find the darn card. Dollars seem to multiply like rabbits. I feel rich at the moment and wish I had known they were there a few days ago when I couldn't find one to save my life.
And yes, my findings are again proving "them" true. I have found a new truth for today. I have become my purse. No one looking at the outside could ever imagine what the inside could possibly contain, but it truly is a reflection of my life.
I think with my new found riches I'm going shoe shopping-and maybe I will buy fresh gum too. The sun is shining today so there is no chance of dropping the cash and coin in puddles on my way to the bank.
Monika M. Basile