Purses are a Girl’s Best Friend

LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION

The song says diamonds are a girls’ best friend. But once you’re older and more mature, you realize how ridiculous that idea is.

Your best friend is your purse.

It provides all of life’s necessities: your phone, your aspirin, your female supplies, your emergency breath freshener; tissues for when the stall is out of toilet paper; just about anything you or whoever is with you might need. And it’s also where you stash used stuff, like napkins that have wiped chocolate off some kid’s face.

Every now and then you get tired of lugging that big purse around, and decide to restrict yourself to a little tiny purse, with just the bare essentials. But essentials multiply like rabbits, and pretty soon you have everything that was in your big purse compressed like a brick into this little purse, and you’re afraid to open it because God-knows-what will spring out.

Now, men do fine with just pockets, because:

a) Men don’t serve as everybody else’s trash can – like women do. We start out teaching our kids not to litter, so if they eat a candy bar, we have them hand us the wrapper and we stick it in our purse because we can’t find a trash can. This goes on, and on, and they grow up, and graduate, and go bald, and they’re still handing us candy wrappers, which join with the wrappers of candies that aren’t even manufactured any more, and our purse is 30 pounds heavier than it used to be;

b) Men like to look bulky;

c) Men put their stuff into our purses.


My gentleman friend Lust is always handing me something – from a Popsicle stick to an entire newspaper – to carry in my purse.

I draw the line at some things. Like a take-out cup of coffee. I know from experience that if you put that in your purse, even if it has a tight lid, it will spill and drown your new cell phone in coffee. And when you take this phone back to where you got it and say, “It just broke. I don’t know why,” they will inhale the coffee fumes off it, and you won’t get no refund.

Now, my sister-in-law Gloriosa, she got a thing for designer purses. They aren’t her best friends; they’re her trophies. She has a wardrobe of purses, each kept in a special dust-proof holder. Plus she insists, like my mama did, that your purse must always match your shoes. This makes no more sense than saying that your coffee cup must always match your toenail polish.

Besides, changing purses is risky business. Even if you physically dump everything from the red purse directly into the black purse, like you was doing purse-to-purse resuscitation, you’ll always leave one thing behind. It will hide in some pocket or it’ll catch in the lining and it’ll be something crucial, like breath mints, which you’ll realize you don’t have just after you ate the onion salad.

But sometimes you have to break down and change purses (like when the old one is full of coffee, for instance). Last month I found a nice big purse for $15 at Payless. So I emptied out my good old purse, sorted through the junk, found things that I’d given up for lost, like my daughter’s birth certificate; a Tootsie Roll (still mostly wrapped), which I ate; a lot of stray M&Ms, which I threw out; etc. Then I arranged my essential necessities neatly in my new purse.

The next day, me and Lust went to the Oktoberfest with Gloriosa and her husband. We are standing there watching the Chicken Dance, and Lust gets the urge to go to the john. He says “Take this,” and hands me his beer. He thinks he’s putting it in my hand, but I’m entranced by some big guys in shorts and suspenders who remind me of the 610 Stompers. So I absent-mindedly hold out my purse, like usual, and he drops his mug of beer in it.

I am a little upset – but Gloriosa is horrified. A purse! Ruint! To Gloriosa, this is like a death in the family. And unbeknownst to me, she pulls Lust aside and tells him he owes me a new bag. (She calls them “bags.” I think a bag is what you carry the groceries home in.) She recommends Coach in Canal Place. Coach is evidently the Holy Grail of pursedom. And she lays such a guilt trip on him that he actually goes there. The next day, he surprises me with a new purse.

Well, I think it’s very sweet of him to give me something when it isn’t even my birthday, and I give him a big kiss and sling it over my shoulder and go home and show it to my daughter Gladiola. Who immediately freaks out and looks it up online and informs me that this Bag, which is now setting on my couch with the cat sniffing at it, cost $698.

And here I was about to dump my things into it. I am so upset, I don’t know whether to spit or go blind. Lust expects me to walk around with a bag tha belongs in a safe. What if something spills in there? What if my ballpoint pen marks up the lining? What if, God forbid, it gets snatched?

Finally I dump my purse contents into a Ziploc bag, zip it and place it very, very carefully into The Bag.

And now, every morning after I have coffee with Lust, I strut off to work with The Bag on my shoulder. The minute I’m out of sight, I stash it in a Rouses grocery bag for protection.

So for now I’m carrying two bags and The Bag.

 None of them match my shoes.

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