If handbags were golf clubs…
“How many handbags does a woman need?”
Unbelievably so, this is not presented as a rhetorical question. I am staring in astonishment at a bewildered man staring right back at me across the kitchen, scanning his face with my bullshit detector on High. There’s no flicker of activity on the dial. Turns out I’m looking at a guy of major intelligence, perfectly capable of negotiating with the bears and bulls of the finance world, who is trying to drag logic into a fundamental female phenomenon: we enjoy a good handbag. Which is not to be confused with the practical male approach that a bag is a vessel for carrying clobber.
I resort to age-old trickery and deflect.
“If handbags were golf clubs,” I declare loftily, “we wouldn’t be having this conversation. You wouldn’t expect anyone to play with just one club!”
And as luck would have it, my affirmation arrives in the form of good pal, Carro, who blows in through the front door and drops down her bag in the hallway.
“Carro,” I pounce. “How many bags do you have?”
“To the nearest ten?” She replies, fully occupied with debooting kids and hanging up jackets. “No idea.”
I give my husband a triumphant nod. The same one Eve first gave Adam that says ‘I told you so!’ in neon, flashing lights without actually saying anything at all. He’s none the wiser how many bags a woman needs, or how many bags Caro has, but we both know my point has been made. And won.
Ha! I love handbags. The thrill of running my fingers across the leather or fabric, smelling its newness, checking out the pockets and compartments, the pretty lining, the handles, the strap, the detailing. They are all different. Standing on the store shelves, each perfect piece evokes a sense of excitement and offers the promise of some fancy or casual occasion where I can see in my mind’s eye that this potential acquisition would be just the ticket. Few accessories boast the same power to make or break a look (or a budget, let’s keep it real) and then there’s their great added bonus of being a practical holder of all things necessary.
Which leads me to the other six million dollar question that has flummoxed menfolk ever since Eve left her pretty fig green one dangling in some apple tree. What do women have in their handbags? Gentlemen, I’ll give you a clue.
Years ago, I was sitting in a school history class feigning interest as little Miss Owen explained the ins and outs of the Roman Empire. Miss Owen was a sweetheart. A small, round, ladylike lady from Wales. I’m wagering she had a Marks and Spencer loyalty card in her handbag, but I digress. On this particular hot afternoon, the wall painting suddenly fell when the nail gave way. Without missing a beat, little Miss Owen continued to talk and teach while she opened her powder blue handbag, removed a hammer, replaced the painting and returned the hammer to her bag. She now had the full attention – and respect – of all thirty girls.
I still have my very first ‘proper’ ladylike handbag – a gift from my sorely missed Aunt. I was around 20 when we pushed open the heavy door to the real ladies’ handbag store in Chester and entered another world. Nestled in one of Chester’s famed black and white Tudor buildings, it wasn’t a very big shop, but its quiet quality atmosphere was heightened by its low ceiling, creaky wooden floor and perfect mahogany shelves. One dopamine rush and I was sold on the intoxicating smell of leather coupled with the overwhelming number of designs, choices and possibilities. We chose a soft leather black handbag, with a shoulder strap and several inside pockets. Elegant, classic and mine.
And once they’re mine, they’re here to stay, because now they are part of my story. We’ve been places together, they’ve contributed. How could I ever toss one out? And with it a small portion of my past? And probably a few random coins, half a ChapStick and a dried up lip gloss. So, as the years roll by, they stack up.
And lead to kitchen discussions triggered by my needing more hooks for hanging handbags.
And seriously, between you and me, how many handbags does a woman need?
Just one: a classic that will work with any outfit, any time, any place. All the others are luxurious extras, apart from perhaps a decent clutch, and a shopping tote, oh and an evening bag, and… yeah.
I rest my… umm… case?
PS. I’ve since learned that handbags are best kept on shelves to prevent handles and straps from stretching. But every cloud has a silver lining – stay tuned, one day my blog might include the trials and tribulations of designing new handbag storage space. 😉