I have always bought purses and bags from retail stores, never spending more than $40 for a bag. The people who can go out and spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for a purse baffle me. It seems like such a frivolous thing to do, especially knowing that these purses will be used for a while, then the owner will get tired of it, or demand the latest version to keep up with the ever-evolving world of fashion.
I, on the other hand, hold on to them for years. I’m not saying I don’t have several, because I do, but I often give them a rotation and use them until they are tattered, worn, and filthy and have seen far better days. I’m rough on my bags; they are with me every day and I stuff them to the gills with the odd assortment of items: at least four tubes of chapstick or lip balms (I have a problem); a small makeup bag with toothpaste and toothbrush and a small container of wax for my braces (when you have braces as an adult, you learn quickly to always carry this stuff with you); whatever book I’m pretending to read at the moment (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I don’t like it much); and the usual suspects–billfold (or wallet or pocketbook or whatever your regional dialect prefers), a pen or two because you are never sure if you have a pen or not, so you toss one in just in case, and keys. Recently, I found a Fruit Roll-Up at the bottom of my bag. I am still unsure how that got in there, but it made me happy to discover it because hey, Fruit Roll-up.
These bags get tossed around and beaten up. The lining of the one I’m currently reusing is shot. The seams have all ripped open and anything that was once nestled safely in a pocket is now stuck in the purgatory that is between the liner and outer shell of the purse. Nothing makes you more crazy than absolutely knowing for a fact that you have a certain item with you but cannot find it and end up dumping the contents out on a table to rummage through it, angry and annoyed.
It’s a treat when I decide to exchange bags, as I always find something I had been looking for in it, couldn’t find it, so dubbed it missing without hope of return. So that’s where that went! Welcome back, old friend! Favorite shades of lipstick reunited, favorite pens found again. It’s heartwarming, really.
Lately, the bag I’ve been using has definitely seen better days. It’s faux-leather, and the edges around the opening and long shoulder strap are wearing out and the once lovely tan color is allowing the ugly fabric to show through. This particular bag in question is also the one that keeps eating my things into its belly. I decided I needed to get a new one when I reached into a pocket to retrieve something and instead of what I was looking for, came up with fingers covered in an odd black, grainy substance. There was glitter thrown in there, too. Again, I have no idea what this was or how it got there. Perhaps my bags are going out on adventures when I’m sleeping, like Toy Story, but with bags. Oh, the stories they could tell each other. Oh god, remember that time she stuffed her underwear in here and forgot about it until she got to work? Well, I do now, bag. Thanks.
Several weeks ago at a meeting, a guy I know was carrying an absolutely incredible leather briefcase but it also had the long crossbody strap I covet in all my bags. His bag was gorgeous. A dark caramel and just enough scuffing and blemishes on the grain to give it character. If that thing could talk, I imagine it would sound just like the actor Sam Elliott. Gruff but soothing, a deep baritone of a voice with a flowing cadence. I asked him where he got it and how much it set him back, because I knew that thing had to have been expensive. It reeked of leather. I put my nose close to it and took a deep inhale, the neurons in my brain completely freaking out at the surge of serotonin breathing that amazing scent in does to a person. The smell is your father’s trusty old leather work boots, tarnished and worn from years outside. It smells like general stores, which is kind of odd because you’re a 36 year old woman who has never set foot in a general store, unless the one inside Cracker Barrel counts, which it probably doesn’t. It’s a masculine smell, and soothing. I had to have one of my own.
A few days ago during a lull at work, I brought up the website and browsed the bags and the other items for sale. My hunch was also correct: the bag my friend has was $600. Mother Mary of God. Never in my life have I spent that kind of money for an accessory. My mind went to those women carrying Coach bags, and I was torn: buy it or no. Knowing my ability to hold onto these things for decades, I knew it would be a sound investment. I’d never have to buy another bag ever again! I say that because this company boasts a 100 year guarantee–if something you buy from them fails in any way, shape, or form, they’ll replace it, no questions asked. They mean business. I looked at various styles and sizes and opted for the satchel they were selling. The dimensions were exact to the bag I am using now, so I knew it would suit my purposes. The shoulder strap was long and there’s this nifty thing where you can convert the shoulder strap method to a backpack and well, gosh dang if that isn’t the neatest thing ever. I clicked the button to add it to my cart, my heart speeding up at the price tag–not $600, but still ten times more than I’ve ever spent on a bag. I shared my story to Facebook, and my trusty companion told me to take the plunge and buy it. I snorted to myself, still unsure of the spendy purchase. After mulling it over all afternoon, I finally hit the “checkout” button, entered my information in, and hit “submit.” If you don’t think I didn’t have a mini panic attack about it, brothers and sisters, you’re wrong and don’t know me at all.
It arrived today. I got the email earlier this afternoon from UPS saying my package had been dropped off on the front porch. Oh my goodness. Holy cow. I opened up the box and there it was, even more spectacular than I imagined. That deep golden brown color I love and bright silver buckles. They were not messing around making this and I want to thank the cow who sacrificed itself in order to become this beautiful specimen. Thank you, cow.
But then, I noticed a cardboard tag attached to the strap with a piece of twine. They’ll fight over it when you’re dead it says. They being your family and friends, when you’re dead because as I mentioned earlier, it’s guaranteed for a century.
For some reason, this got to me. It made me sad, in a way. As it stands, I am not a “typical woman,” and never had kids. Both medical reasons and personal ones prevented this from happening. I like kids enough; they can be a hoot when they aren’t throwing tantrums and ruining your lives. Kids say the darnedest things! But I don’t have any, so who in the fuck is going to get this bag when I shed this mortal coil? Is it just going to sit abandoned in my house until someone not related to me sees it and decides to keep it? Will whomever cleans my house when I die keep it for themselves? Will looters break into my place, see it sitting and take it and try to get money for it from a pawn shop?
This isn’t “oh gosh, I regret not having kids!” This is just a weird little thing I think about from time-to-time. As it stands, I’m The Last Hoffmeyer, as in I’m the only product of the union between my mother and father. My dad’s older brother never had kids…that we know of, at least…and my mom had my older brother already when our parents married, so I am literally it. It’s just me left that’s riddled with Hoffmeyer genes, like big noses, a mess of thick hair, a giant German head, a propensity for severe depression, and cancer. I never regret not having kids, trust me. I just regret not having someone else to carry on the Hoffmeyer name and legacy, which is really ridiculous because that would mean having kids. And that’s awfully egotistical of me, as well. What makes us so great we need to keep going for generations? Um…nothing? The greatest thing I’ve ever done was not laugh when I was at work at a gastroenterologist’s office helping perform a colonoscopy and the patient farted as the scope was violating their anus. That’s it. That’s my short list of accomplishments in 36 years. Here lies Erin Elizabeth Hoffmeyer, July 4, 1981. She didn’t laugh when someone ripped ass that one time. Rest In Peace.
It’s amazing to me what arbitrary things will send you on a tangent like that. It’s a bag, for crissakes. A bag. A really incredible, finely-crafted bag, but a bag nonetheless. I am not a failure for failing to spread my genetic code. Trust me; that’s a blessing.
I just hope whoever ends up with this thing enjoys it as much as I am going to.