Seven years ago around Valentine's Day - or was it eight? - I met my purse.
We lived in Germany at the time, stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base. And one day while I was perusing the BX, I fell in love with a Coach purse. It was black, made of a soft, buttery leather: simple and understated, yet elegantly tailored. But if you know anything about Coach purses, you know that they're not cheap. This one in particular was like $300. And even though we didn't have kids at the time, we were just in our early twenties, living on an airman's meager salary, and reeeeeally not in the position to drop three hundred smackers on something as frivolous as a handbag.
But I was determined to save up the money and somehow make that beautiful black Coach my own. I worked six days a week as a night stocker in the freezer section of the Commissary, and would make just enough in a month to buy the purse. But I was afraid someone would snatch it up before I could make the purchase - so I hid it, furtively stashing it behind rows of other bags lining the BX shelves. "Nobody will get to that purse before I do," I boasted to Curtis.
And I checked on the purse. Obsessively. For, like, weeks. Nearly every time I was in the BX and had a few minutes to spare, I'd sneak over to the handbags and make sure it was still there.
Until one day, it wasn't. And I was sooooo bitterly disappointed.
"Someone found my purse," I told Curtis sadly over dinner. I probably even had tears in my eyes. "It's gone."
But then he handed me a package. And I found out that the "someone" who had found my purse? Was my husband. He'd bought it for me for Valentine's Day - all $300 worth.
Fast-forward to yesterday, like two million years later. I was still carrying that same purse. Yes, I can practically hear all you handbag-of-the-season-toting fashionistas gasping at the sheer horror of it. But y'all? I get my money's worth. And of course, it had sentimental value.
I guess it's obvious that I've never really gotten the obsession with handbags. I mean, yeah, I enjoyed carrying a nice purse ... but that never made me want to amass a huge collection of them, or keep up with whichever designer bag the celebrities are carrying. To me, it's a huge hassle to switch purses according to outfit or whatever. And besides, I have three kids. I have carried everything from baby food to toy trucks to peed-on underwear in my purse (theirs, not mine). In fact, just yesterday I realized I'd been toting a dirty plastic spork in there. Why would I want to spend a small fortune on something that essentially gets used as a trash receptacle from time to time?
Still, as I tugged on the broken zipper of my poor old beaten-up Coach for the two millionth time yesterday - and silently lamented the lack of interior space - I realized sadly that it was time for some sort of replacement.
Conveniently, there was this sign up at an empty Steve & Barry's store that screamed, "WEEKEND CLEARANCE!" I'd been seeing the commercials on TV for a while (during my daily dose of the Maury show - don't judge) in which they went on and on about how this sale would be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only - and how you could get designer purses, perfume, jeans, laptops, jewelry, tools, and all this other crap at rock-bottom prices up to 80% off!
Designer purses. As in ... Coach.
You can probably see where this is going.
Now - I'm not an experienced handbag buyer, but even I know this: when the only thing standing between you and your new purse is a pack of gold-toothed thugs buying new bling at a deep discount ... it's probably not a real Coach.
But thugs notwithstanding, I bought a new purse. In fact, I bought two - a black one and a brown one - for a teeny fraction of the cost of my one original (and authentic) Coach. They're all right. I mean, even Stevie Wonder could see that they're knockoffs ... but they're decent knockoffs, and will serve their purpose in a way that my old purse couldn't.
When I got home, I couldn't wait to "move in" to my roomy new black purse. But first I had to have a moment with my real Coach. After emptying it, I took it back to my closet, gave it a loving squeeze, and whispered my thanks for its years of faithful service before placing it gently on the shelf. I probably don't need to keep it, but I couldn't fathom throwing it away.
Maybe some day years in the future, when I no longer need to carry the occasional diaper or baggie of Cheerios or other space-sucking kid necessity, I'll dust off my old purse and get the zipper fixed and use it again. It'll be vintage by then.
That's fashionable, right?