The Inadequate Satchel

Modern ladies, could one of you please clue me in to the purpose of a disturbing trend? I went to procure a new purse and realized that, judging from the selections available, it is now fashionable to carry a grocery sack. I thought we had separate bags for groceries, but these bags appear to be large enough to carry all the essentials—keys, wallet, phone, Kindle or book, maybe a bottle of water or snack—as well as a week’s worth of groceries, two sweaters, an 8-track cassette player, and a medium-sized dog.

WHAT are we putting in these handbags?

These gigantor bags are properly called “totes,” which I know because I had to wade through several pages of terminology to discover that I wanted the style of a tote combined with the size of a satchel. (How can “satchel” be a real thing? It’s what my grandmother always calls bags, and she calls plastic containers “Tufferware” and transgendered persons “morphydites,”* so I know “satchel” can’t be real.)

English: Gladrags and handbags! A giant handba...
See what I’m talking about? Ridiculous.

So, ladies, what are we toting? I can’t figure it out. I’ve managed to keep my everyday bag down to one about 10 inches long. Yes, I’m a mom, but I also have a separate diaper bag, so I don’t need room for baby stuff in my handbag. I can fit J.’s milk and a couple of diapers in my handbag, though, so if it’s just a quick trip, I don’t even need to take the diaper bag.

I feel like I might be doing something wrong, like I might be terribly ill-prepared for an impending disaster.

This is why, as a mom, I’m inadequate. When the apocalypse happens and J. and I are at the park (because in my mind, that’s where we always are at the advent of the apocalypse), some superior mother will reach into her gargantuan “tote” and produce enough cans of tuna and antibacterial hand gel and inspirational texts for everyone on the playground. I will be left to fall to my knees in the anguish of shame, saying, “Why, WHY didn’t I buy a tote like all the other mothers? I thought I could provide for my family’s needs with a mere satchel? For my pride, I am suffering thus.” Because I would probably say something like that. And the more-prepared mother with the gargantuan handbag would be all radiant with heroism and her child would be proud of her, while my child would be left to stare at me, shaking his head in derision.

It goes without saying that I don’t understand why any woman needs more than one handbag.** My own mother has approximately sixty-five, in an astounding array of colors, sizes, patterns, materials, strap types, and closures. I find this baffling. I think it’s about “expressing yourself,” or something along those lines that my pseudo-artist hipster douchebag ex-boyfriend once said when lecturing me about my lack of fashion. With so many delicious words at my disposal, why should I have to express myself through my handbag? I tend to see such possessions as strictly utilitarian: a bag is to hold objects I need; shoes are to protect my feet; a car is to get me places.

Speaking of shoes, I own as few pairs as are necessary. If my mother didn’t recall giving birth to me, she’d think I was adopted. In an ideal society, I say, everyone would have only one or two functional pairs of shoes, depending on climate.

I would work out great as head of the Department of Fashion in a repressive communist state.


*I think she was thinking of “hermaphrodite.” “Morphydite” actually isn’t a terrible name, although I wish she hadn’t used it so loudly in reference to the nurse that was emptying her bedpan. (My grandmother, scowling: “Is that one of them there morphydites?”)

**I do own a “clutch.” For fancy events. So I can move about unencumbered.

6 thoughts on “The Inadequate Satchel

  1. I have one of those little square Longchamp bags, which I refer to as the magic purse, because I feel like I can fit everything in there–I have actually fit my wallet, phone, keys, a kindle, and a bottle of water in there before when traveling. And it’s roughly 8×8. I have no earthly idea what someone is putting in something bigger!

  2. Yeah, when I had my twins, I carried an L.L. Bean backpack as both a diaper bag and purse for about three years. I’d still be carrying it if my gay male friends hadn’t staged an intervention and forced me to use an actual purse, lest they never be seen in public with me again.

    1. That seems smart. I have no doubt that gay male bf would have intervened for me as well. Indeed, their concern for the proper accessories isn’t just a stereotype.

  3. I have a large handbag. It was an impulse buy. But it’s pretty, black and (gasp) genuine leather. Damn you GMA and your deals and steals. I can fit all the basics, plus diapers for R, my nook, and my latest knitting project and still have a bit of room to spare. That said, I most often run out of the house with just my wallet, keys and phone jammed into my pockets. Oh, and half way down the road I start praying that R doesn’t poop while we are out…

  4. your shoulders and back are way better off!. I carry too much and recently downsized to save my shoulder muscles. I love your line about using “delicious” words to express yourself…love your “style” 🙂

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