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We women and our pocketbooks

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By Janny Wilcke

A woman and her pocketbook share a unique bond. A pocketbook serves not only as a carrying case for any number of “necessary” items, it is also a fashion statement, and in some ways a reflection of her personality. A woman is apt to fuss about her purse now and then while a man will tend to carry around the same old wallet until it is so worn that bills start falling out. Most women need a frequent change in purses. 

This has been on my mind lately because I’ve been looking for the perfect purse, and I know that it’s out there somewhere. (I must sound like someone on a dating service seeking love!)  Occasionally, I’ll buy a new pocketbook, but more often I search among used ones at Goodwill or a consignment shop. My ideal is a bag that suits my self-image. (Let’s see… pioneer, so burlap?) It also has to be easy to organize and roomy enough, of course, to hold all those necessities I can’t leave at home.

My last inventory included lip balm, comb, checkbook, savings-account register, a ring for credit cards (an organizational tip from Martha Stewart!), an extra set of keys, eyeglasses, my cell-phone, packets of diet sweetener, my wallet, an assortment of pens, a small notebook, chewing gum, a coupon holder, a vial of perfume, a package of Kleenex, receipts for gift purchases, slips of paper with sizes on them, and a small photo album containing photographs of my children and grandchildren just in case the occasion should arise to brag a little.

I have to believe that most women will identify with me on this, although I once went to lunch with a lady who carried only a credit card and her car keys. I was shocked. Our friendship didn’t last but that memory certainly did.

One pocketbook I had recently lasted only one day. I loaded the bag with my stash and carried it off, confident that everything was tucked neatly into its own place. But that pocketbook was so deep that I zigged and zagged on I-71 trying to locate my lip balm. I never did find it, so I donated that purse right back to Goodwill the next day. I think you need to have a purse that allows you to locate any item simply by feel so you can keep your eyes on the road.

Another purse lasted only a week because I decided I hated the way it looked. I originally thought I could forgive a little dorkiness for convenience and efficiency but, as it turned out, I could not. That, too, was a $3 purchase from Goodwill.

I did shell out $40 for a new pocketbook last April.  I thought it was perfect, and it was… until a slight complication set in, one with which some of you girls and women are surely familiar. It got boring.

So today, I have just poured my entire collection of “must-haves” into yet another pocketbook – this one from a consignment shop.  It looks promising, and I’m hoping that it will be able to last longer than its most recent predecessor.

The moral to this story may be a warning to men that they should never try to pick out a pocketbook for their wives or girlfriends for Christmas. And really, forget the moral of my last column. There are some frustrations that one can scarcely deal with — and for a woman, finding the perfect pocketbook is one of them.