The Handbag

The Handbag

by: Ieuan Dolby

The first sentence of this article….
I have always been fascinated by handbags. They remain to the average man a complete mystery: one whose depth knows no bounds.
Important Notice to Readers:
Before embarking on the body of this non-Seamania-style article I herewith and for the official record state quite categorically that I have no tendencies (potential, inherent or otherwise) towards purchasing a handbag for my own use, that I am not hiding in a closet and that I have never worn, considered or attempted to wear a dress or ladies undergarments, used or otherwise.
The main body of the article
The handbags themselves……..a series of sausages, doughnuts, kitchen sink holdalls and floral arrangements that have at one point or another been deemed fashionable, suited to a certain item of clothing or bought in a rash moment when feeling down. These cupboard space fillers and coat rack adornments are usually made from some ex-animal, of fully-unnatural materials that ooze the latest in plastics or from a variety of down-to-earth feathers, beads or weeds that any self-respecting cockroach or gecko would love to call his home – should the bag remain still for long enough.
Colours and styles are so important in bags, were a dress maybe calming or reserved in style the handbag adornment will counteract this by shouting louder than the town crier. Were office dress gives off serious and in-charge vibes, the shoulder bag or briefcase/handbag will scream hysterically to the world “crocodile skin”!
For the average man, a wild stab in the dark at what a woman might possibly be wearing of an evening, a 40% pass rate would be about normal. But to try and guess (and getting it right) what handbag will be coming out with the dress and heels would be like trying to guess where Osama Bin Laden is having his 2005 summer vacation. It just “ain’t” gonna be right!
The handbag that is joining the evening meal might resemble a suitcase with the world inside or it could well be as garish in colour as to require sunglasses to view? It might come perched on the edge of a slender shoulder, strapped to the cuff or held by a little finger nearly as big as the bag itself. It might well be outrageously expensive with a fashionable name plastered all over it for the unaware or be the latest in cheapness and falling apart at the seams?
Handbag Research…….Last week I was tidying up the house, not something that I do very often but with the wife recuperating after giving birth to our son I felt it necessary to apply myself to something that did not require much thought. I started off in the sitting room, fluffing up cushions and straightening tables – the sort of tidying up that the average man thinks is useful but does not in-fact do anything towards the general improvement in cleanliness of the room (or so I have been told frequently). After ten minutes of hard work I suddenly realised that my “not sure what to do with these items” pile became too hard to ignore as I was tripping over it every time I passed. Upon further inspection of my ‘growth’ and just before I was thinking about having a beer to wet my throat I noticed that it consisted mainly of handbags! Brought together from under cushions, from under coffee tables and out of nooks and crannies and seemingly convenient handbag storage areas that I never knew existed a veritable nations of female holding devices had arisen. From imitation puma skins to latex, from greens to fluorescent oranges I had in front of me a mount Olympus of sandwich look-alikes and animals that might just still be alive.
At this point I was feeling out-of-breath and rather regretting my original initiative! I turned to the beer that I needed then more than ever before. I sat looking at the scaled mountain range in confusion not sure what to do next when suddenly, maybe due to the beers influence I decided to look inside one of these bags to get an answer to my self-made problem. I stood up and went to my pile, sat down and proceeded to look inside the first of the bunch.
Inside the first bag that resembled a fluorescent bull dog: 9 pounds in loose change, lipstick in three different colours, a not-so-clean handkerchief, a diary from 1999 (two years out of date), a seriously bent and twisted motorbike key, a spare battery for a mobile phone, a lone visa card and a hairbrush, another hairbrush and six different hair clips and bally thingies.
Inside of the second bag that looked too large to be used as hand luggage on a plane: 11.50pounds in loose change, another handbag that looked too small to hold anything inside of it, and a spider that was as equally surprised to see me as I was to see it. Oh, and a cobweb!
Inside of the third bag that could have been a sausage roll with a rather extra large helping of mustard and cucumber dressing: 22.00 pounds in notes and loose change, a plastic toy that squeaked when squashed, a vanity set, a sewing kit, 2 lipsticks in varying colours and a bent and twisted scooter key that I’m sure I had already found in the first bag.
This was all too much for me! At this point of the game I decided to open up another can of beer. Apart from the money I could not for the life of me fathom out what to do with the stuff that had now become a second pile next to the first; a mountain range in the making. I had no place to put the bags and no idea as to what I should do with the contents. Should I try to sort them out and find alternative and sensible homes for them?
I had a third beer and a fourth beer. I had a fifth beer and a sixth beer! I went to the bedroom for inspiration but in every corner, under the bed, in closets and in the bathroom I could see bags and more bags whichever way I looked. I went to my study assuming that this one place in the house would be sacrosanct to the handbag menace – and there hanging over the back of my desk chair was a leather shoulder bag that looked as if it was bulging at the seams with content and suggestion, in fact I think it was laughing at me.
I put everything back. I repacked those bags explored (including the money) and I put all the bags back under cushions, back into their homes in corners and under coffee tables and I reduced that pile to zero in the only way that I knew how! I put them all back to the exact places whence they had come.
This was a world a culture that I no longer wanted any part of! I put everything back even to the extent of un-fluffing the cushions and wiped the disaster from my mind.
A woman and her bag……..I always remember my first real insight to the handbag world. As a youngster going to discothèques it was the norm for boys to try and get noticed by the skimpily clad girls dancing around their personal identity: placed in piles in the centre of the floor to be danced around like a group of druids at a communal forest meet. Even then, all those years back whilst being told to “but out” I could see that handbags where a massive part of what made a woman.
Over the years these bags have come to represent more than just a mere receptacle for weird and required items. Current fashions and trends, clothing worn and feelings of the moment play such a large part in the equation as do the security that one can offer. I know from experience that being slapped around the head by a handbag is not at all pleasant, in fact it is downright painful and enough to make the average man depart the scene as quickly as possible.
Handbags are also very useful as pillows should a girl have to sleep rough, for use as an excuse to rummage in during embarrassing moments, as talking pieces over a pint in the pub, to give as birthday presents, to steal, to hide the mother-in-laws home made cookies in to save any embarrassment, as houses for spiders, improve moral, to show boys that they are all grown up and to well ……a whole host of other things.
A week or so later …….. after my handbag sortie, my wife having returned home with our new born son was starting to catch up on the house hold chores! Obviously making some comments about my having not done much during her absence, she started to mutter something about the large basket in the bedroom that she did not know what to do with. She explained patiently that this large basket contained various items that she had removed from the pockets of the “numerous” pairs of trousers, shorts, jackets, and shirts that she had collected from around the bedroom, under chairs, in the new babies cot, on chairs, under the bed and la de da de da!
I suppose I had not done much washing since she had been away but …….well, I suppose a look at this basket wouldn’t do any harm although at the time I could not imagine what it might contain.
Anyway, just for information sake: Some of the items pulled from my pockets and now residing in this basket included: a pen, a wallet, a watch strap with no watch, a sticking plaster, a bent and twisted car key (I don’t currently have a car), quite a lot of loose change, a length of string twisted and knotted irreversibly, a strange looking wad of paper that contained my mother-in-laws attempts at making hot-cross buns in it, a bank statement and a screwdriver.
No spider though!

About The Author

Ieuan Dolby – Author and Webmaster of Seamania. As a Chief Engineer in the Merchant Navy he has sailed the world for fifteen years. Now living in Taiwan he writes about cultures across the globe and life as he sees it.

This article was posted on April 03, 2005