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Purses are convenient, but necessary evil - Valerie Baldowski

We -- women -- like our purses, and enjoy gleefully stuffing everything we can into them.

Indeed, a handbag slung over our shoulder frees up our hands to do other things.

Every time I buy a new purse or pocketbook, I take great care to try and get one just the right size. The rule of thumb is, not too big and not too small, with plenty of pockets to tuck little things into.

But, with all the purses and handbags out there to choose from, sometimes, it's hard to hit a happy medium.

The last purse I had was a little too small. I barely had room to cram all my stuff in. There was not one little bit of space left after it was fully packed. It was so full of stuff, I couldn't reach in and pull one item out without everything else spilling out.

I got tired of that, so I stopped by my favorite thrift store to get an inexpensive, used purse and pay only a few bucks. That one didn't last long. The zipper broke shortly after I began using it.

This time, I decided to spend a bit more money and actually "splurge" on a purse from my favorite discount store, the one with the yellow smiley face that promises low, low prices.

After searching and comparing, I got my current purse, but now, this one's a little too big.

At first, I thought it was great. It has pockets on either side, and one inside, all three of which I use constantly. I can fit all kinds of stuff in there -- everything but the kitchen sink.

I have so much room, my change purse would habitually open up in my pocketbook and shower coins all over. When I went to look for a handful of change, it was scattered all over. It took forever to make change. I eventually got a second change purse. Now, I use one exclusively for dollar bills and coins, and the other for my bankcard, driver's license, library card, insurance cards, and any other types of plastic.

I still have problems, I guess, because my huge suitcase-sized purse, with its big honking shoulder straps, is forever flopping over and threatening to dump its contents out every where.

At any given time, I carry around a cell phone, key chain, pencils, pens, loose change, a nail clipper, batteries, a tape recorder, business cards, mints, two wallets, a hairbrush, sweetener, a makeup case, sinus medicine, a bottle of non-aspirin pain reliever, a grocery shopping list, and two envelopes of dollar bills.

Sometimes, I slide in a sandwich, a carton of yogurt, or a set of Mapquest directions. Every so often, I'll find small toys I didn't know were in there.

Every time I try to slip something unobtrusively and discreetly into my purse, I wonder if I'll ever find it again, without mounting a massive search for it. I can't find things I look for, and am forever coming across items I don't want when I'm searching for something else.

It's getting to be like the Bermuda Triangle in there. I have to be careful when I stick my hand in my purse to rummage around for something, as there's no telling what I'll pull out.

It's like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. If it's a small item I'm looking for, then good luck retrieving it. I'll soon have another chance to choose the perfect purse, as my current one is tearing up from constant use.

So, it's back to the drawing board. This time, I'll downsize.

Valerie Baldowski covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. She can be reached via e-mail at vbaldowski@henryherald.com.