The Octopus Cargo Purse

by Debbie Harris

Purses are very personal items for women. Most women know what features they want in a purse. Some women like dump-it purses. That’s the bag with one opening where you just dump all your stuff in one pocket, throw the strap over your shoulder and head out. When you need something, you dig, archeologist style, until you find what you’re looking for. If you see a woman with half of her head in her purse, she’s got a dump-it purse. And she’s probably looking for her keys. The rule of all purses is “keys sink to the bottom and tampons and panty liners float to the top.”

I’m not a dump-it purse kind of woman. My purses have to have a certain number of sections so I can at least have an idea which section something I’m looking for is in. Any purse missing the right number of sections, isn’t purchased.

My purses are usually pretty big probably because I carry around so many “just in case” items in addition to my other “necessaries.” I’ve got quite an inventory. You need a safety pin, I’ve got it. Could use a tiny screw driver to refasten the tiny screw that fell out of your glasses? Come to me. Tissue for your allergies? I’ve got you covered. ?
When I had a family, my “mom’s purse” seemed to belong to everyone. Not only did it have to carry all the necessaries and the just-in-cases, it functioned as a receptacle. On a family outing to an amusement park, my purse carried the entry tickets, the parking stub and the map of the park. It had the headache remedy and the sun screen. Throughout the course of the park experience, it got the half-eaten corndog, the crazy straw that was left after the drink was done, and the tickets won at an activity booth — to be redeemed later. Whenever anyone had something they didn’t want to carry anymore, they turned to “mom’s purse.” Family outings for me meant shoulder pain. Maybe that’s how I got used to carrying a big, heavy purse.

A couple of years ago, I got a purse that even I found overwhelming. I called it the octopus cargo purse. It was wide, floppy and had lots of pockets. Filling all pockets was easy. Remembering which one of the many pockets I had put things in wasn’t. I could see that when empty the purse lacked structure, but even full, it did an octopus-like movement. When I’d set it on the table, it would splay open and spread out like an octopus slowly slithering away. Putting my cell phone in the cell phone pocket became a battle of wills. The pocket wriggled and fought the phone, seemingly spitting it back out any time I made progress in maneuvering and forcing it in. No matter how hard I tried, it never seemed to go all the way in. I felt like I needed to hang the purse upside down and spray it with starch.

Eventually, I gave up on the octopus cargo purse. I couldn’t take the struggle any longer and donated it to a resale shop. I hope it goes to a nice home, maybe to someone with a big can of starch.

Happy Father’s Day!!

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