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?


  1. HAH!!!! You are hilarious!! And I love this. There is a Coach purse I love. It is pink. And designed by a mommy blogger. Or something like that. And I want it oh so bad. But right now....I am saving for a New York City vacation in February. After that?? Who knows. But...I like my Nine West purse in Raspberry that Jennifer bought me. It works for me. And it still fits WHO KNOWS WHAT ALL in there. Mostly holds the shyte that Jennifer doesn't want to carry around when we are out and about together. Oh...and some gummy bears.

  2. I was in Ramstein when I was a kid ;)

    My parents got me a Coach purse for Christmas. It's very pretty.

    And I use my purses for years too. I like to get my money's worth as well.

  3. I love the sentiment in your purse story. I had one like that too - only mine was a prize for winning closest to the pin in a golf tourney (something I haven't repeated since!) I finally had to throw it away (yes, I did) because it got ripped (by a mugger the rat!). Now I have a nice Kate Spade that my hubby got me for xmas cuz he knew I'd never spend that kind of money on myself!

  4. I use purses forever too. I carry everything I might ever possibly need during the day, so I'm not a huge fan of switching purses just for the fun of it. And that story... is SO sweet. :-)

  5. Ahhh- First of all, what a great hubby!!! Sometimes they can just blow you away can't they!?! Secondly, I use my purses until they fall apart...and I don't match my bag to my outfit. Don't get me wrong, I would love to be that stylish lady; but my hubby would die if I had several expensive bags. Seriously, spending money makes his eyes twitch!!

  6. I hate changing out purses too, and don't like paying designer prices but I did end up with a Miche Bag. They are the bags that you just change the cover on and it has been pretty cool. I have used it religiously until this past weekend. The local surf shop had a Buy One Get One Free sale. The husband spied a cool pair of (expensive) flip flops he didn't need and decided to buy them. I figured if he could do that, the "get one free" item was going to be a new purse, a Billbong - a "name" brand, A "cool" surfer label nonetheless! The Miche Bag will sit in wait for a while now.

  7. Awwww - love this story. I loved the "love" behind the purse and yes, I would keep it, too. Everytime you see it, no matter what's going on around you, you remember what Curtis did. I love TJ Maxx when the purses go on sale; then I can get good leather!

  8. i stumbled across this blog entry at this late date (looking for info on Ramstein) but you brought a tear to my eye with your hubby;'s sweet gesture. I would definitely have a hard time parting with it as well.

    By now I am curious how well the steve & barry's purse held up.



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