My Big Fat Head

Jodi Blase

August 04, 2015

The Bottom of My Pocketbook

My pocketbook is not just a leather bag, it’s my home away from home, and contains the necessary items I require to img_2013-editedsquarecarry me through life outside of my home. My purse criteria:

  1. Capacity:  Ample room so that it could almost be considered carry-on luggage, but at the same time doesn’t look like my son’s book bag.
  2. Strap strength: Durable, medium width, firmly stitched where bag meets strap.
  3. Fabric: I prefer leather.
  4. Style: Simple and functional over flashy and cool.


You cannot dispute the importance of a woman’s purse:

  • My purse as a weapon – If I had a sturdy enough strap and just the right carry through with an intense swing, the weight of my purse could render an attacker unconscious, possibly dead.
  • Like MacGyver, my purse holds everyday items that, in the right hands, could possibly make complex devices in a matter of minutes.
  • Headache?  Cut?  Sore throat?  I’m you’re go-to gal.


I can’t comprehend how some women can leave the house with a credit card sized purse and not a care in the world.  What if they need a pen or elastic or an Advil? Perish the thought!

I’ve tried to lighten my pocketbook, but end up in anxiety mode because what if I’m out somewhere and I don’t have what I need? 

Don’t ask me what this “need” is that I’m referring to.  I couldn’t tell you, but if I don’t have my stuff, I get twitchy.  Could I possibly be one of those women that writer Mavis Gallant referred to when she said, “She had the loaded handbag of someone who camps out and seldom goes home, or who imagines life must be full of emergencies.”

Guilty as charged.

Honorable mention and shout out to my computer bag and canvas lunch tote that I lug to work. The sheer weight of it all could cause a lesser or lighter woman to need a hip replacement.

I’ve even tried the unfashionable fanny pack.  I had a Coach fanny that had a surprising amount of space and stuffed it so full that it was like holding a pudgy baby on my hip all day.

Perhaps I’m dealing with some deep separation anxiety from my household and having my “things” with me lessens this feeling?

Or maybe I’m a purse hoarder, like those house hoarders, only I hoard in my purse?  Is there a purse intervention person?

Or maybe I’m overthinking and I just like my shit with me.

I kinda think it’s the latter.

Whenever my shoulder feels like it’s going to come out of its socket, I vow to cut back on my purse load.  Purse cleaning is a mixture of excitement and dread.  It’s an opportunity to reorganize my life, and if I happen to be changing pocketbooks, I get the benefit of new pocketbook smell; fresh glue and good old leather greet your nose at the unzipper.

The bottom of my pocketbook could easily be a contender for Dirty Jobs.  I begin by dumping the entire contents of my purse on the kitchen table, which resembles the mess at the bottom of a man’s toolbox, only instead of screws and woodchips, one finds barrettes and month old mints.  Remnants of indistinguishable receipts look like they were thrown into an angry ocean, torn and battered from being tossed into the vast center opening.  Shuffling through the mess, I find: endless to-do lists – some checked off, some ignored – loose change, which always comes in handy when you’re at a tollbooth, a Splenda packet that had been slain, pierced by a sharp object, no doubt a pen.  Tiny grains of sucralose line the bottom of my purse, leaving white dust on a few pieces of gum that had escaped their package.

It’s always difficult to say goodbye to a purse. One of my favorites was a Burberry canvas purse/backpack with two black patent leather straps and adjustable buckles.  It was love at first sight.  The flap-top opening and long body made for generous room, and because it was backpack style, I didn’t have to worry about the future of my rotator cuff. I wore that Burberry out like an old pair of comfy shoes.  I almost wept when I retired it.

Of course, having a heavy purse has its downsides. Lopsided posture, wear and tear on the old joints. And yes, if I were at the Cape on my in-law’s boat and somehow went overboard, I’d sink clear to the bottom, as if chained to a boulder.

But let’s not dramatize.

I recently attended a bridal shower where the guests played a game called “purse raid”.  The bride-to-be called off items that may be found in a purse and guests got points for each item they had. You received 10 points for a cough drop, 15 for an expired coupon. Flash drives were 50 points.

“Who has dental floss?”

“Doesn’t everybody, I wondered?”

“Who has a gift card?”

“Me, that’s who.”

“Old sales receipt?”

“Right here.”

“Hand cream?”

“Please, challenge me.”

“Flash drive?”

“Three of them.”

MacGyver ready, per usual.

I was the lucky recipient of the bulging purse prize and went home with a lovely basket of goodies, none of which would fit into my purse.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *