Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What Separates Women from Animals, Vegetables, Minerals and Men? Purses and Shoes, of Course

Women love shoes. That’s not even a generalization; it’s a fact. She might be a debutante, a dancer, a runner, soccer player, scholar, 10 years old or 62 . . . if she qualifies as a female, she loves shoes. My thirteen year-old daughter discovered that flip flops (never make the mistake of calling them “thongs” like we did back in the day) are within her budget, and she now has a rainbow assortment in her closet. You’d think after about a dozen pairs, she’d tire of the hunt for the next perfect pair. Not so. Today’s shopping trip produced striped and multi-colored ones.

There may be degrees of devotion and variations in the genetic blueprint, but there’s no “skirting” the issue that ladies love shoes.

I cannot believe this just happened, but I swear it happened right as I finished that paragraph above--Sean Hannity just reported that today two females stole several pairs of expensive Italian shoes and made a fast getaway. A police chase ensued, with the thieves reaching 100 mph and side-swiping several cars before being stopped. In a last ditch attempt to keep their hot shoes and deter the police, the women tossed their spiky-heeled loot at the officers. Now that’s a weapon. All I can say is, I rest my case.

Personally, my affection for shoes is rivaled by purse love. I can remember several purses from early childhood, mostly white plastic “pocket books” with fabric flowers on them that girls usually carried for Easter. I’d twist the little metal fastener in circles throughout the service and unpack and re-pack the contents. One year, I took an egg that my pet chicken had lain in my purse because I thought it was so perfect for Easter. I was definitely the object of all my church friends’ envy. Everything was hunky-dory until we got to the car in the gravel parking lot to go home. I tossed my purse in first, then jumped in and promptly squashed my Easter egg. It was a mess. So was I, emotionally speaking, and so was my Easter dress and my parents’ back seat.

As much as I loved purses, I never splurged on an expensive one. It seems I was always either a poor student, a new mom whose purse was a diaper bag, or a mom who couldn’t rationalize spending her kids’ orthodontic money on a fashion accessory. And all of my bags were basic brown or black, with an occasional denim thrown in. Very practical.

Fast forward to 2006. The kid is no longer in braces, but she’s in an expensive private college. However, she has a job. Thus, in a new day of self-indulgence, I decided to get myself an impractical, stylish purse. If only it were that easy. Here’s how it went down:

One day I was shopping when I saw it out the corner of my eye. It was lust at first sight, but because I’m frugal, I decided to delay the impulse to buy. Seven long days passed, and I still couldn’t forget that gorgeous example of what can only be described as pure “purse art.” It was perfect—stylishly oblong, supple leather, classy buckles and fasteners, sassy short handles, and the best feature—a rich, buttery yellow hue. On the eighth night, while I was gazing longingly at the yellow stick of butter on our family dinner table, my husband said, “Go get that purse. Please. We just want you back!”

I left the table for the store. I nearly sprinted to the place where it was, but when I got there—no purse. Gone. I asked for help. The associate couldn’t recall the purse. She asked around. She looked at printouts. It was like my purse had never existed. Crestfallen, I drove about 25 mph home.

For several days, I searched the internet. No luck. I called the manufacturer. No luck. It was like I had met my soul mate one evening on a dark train who had then disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Where’s a gumshoe like Bogie when you need him?

A few weeks later, I found a reasonable facsimile, similar almost to a “T.” Guess what—it was on sale. I brought it home.

That night, I took it to my Girls’ Group meeting where seven of us talk and laugh and cry each week. We know each other very well. They knew the significance of the purse. They had shared my joy, my loss, my grief, and now, they would share my happy ending. We stood at a counter in my friend Leslie’s kitchen, where I proudly set down my purse and enjoyed the “oohs” and “aahs.” I was answering how I’d found the yellow beauty that was serendipitously on sale, when I smelled an awful aroma. I looked down to see that one of the purse handles had fallen over into Leslie’s lit candle. My purse was afire. I grabbed it and danced around her room wailing in disbelief. I don’t curse, but I grunted every unintelligible syllable a human can make.

“Yellow Beauty” now has a big black mark on her handle that is matched only by the black mark on my soul from this ordeal.

The point of this story? I’m not sure. All I know is, purses and shoes can drive a woman to desperate behaviors, like assaulting a policeman or sticking her hand into hot wax and fire. It’s worth it, though. We’d do it all again for the glory of purse/shoe love.

No comments: