Across the River | Secrets of the handbag carriers

CHICK-MAGNETS: No self-respecting lady can walk past a handbag shop without at least having a little peek, perhaps even a cheeky fondle. Photo: Geoff Goodfellow.
CHICK-MAGNETS: No self-respecting lady can walk past a handbag shop without at least having a little peek, perhaps even a cheeky fondle. Photo: Geoff Goodfellow.

Can a woman walk past a handbag shop without having a sneaky look?  

No, she can’t.  

My good wife Barbara is not a shopper.  

In fact she hates shopping, but I have never, ever, seen her walk straight past a handbag in a shop window without stopping for a gander.  

What is it about handbags that make men so much different from women? Is this genetic?

A man simply grabs his wallet, car keys and a clean hankie, and away he goes.  

But not a lady. She needs a handbag and she needs a good one.  

Even the Queen never leaves Buck Palace without her handbag. 

And have you seen how much some of these handbags cost?

So in an attempt to unravel the mysteries of handbags, I turned to my Bookface friends to see if they could enlighten me. And they did.

I hit pay-dirt about why ladies carry handbags with the very first response.

“Us ladies don’t like carrying things in our pockets, Geoff,” came the prompt reply from a former work colleague. “It makes our bums look big.”

Now that solves the riddle of why women use handbags. But what do women keep in them?

Not surprisingly friends listed things like car keys, purse, makeup, a mirror, phone, tissues, comb, band-aids, panadol, pens, a golf balls, lotto forms, notebook, perfume, diary, hand sanitizer, tea bags, sunglasses, shopping bag, Swiss army knife, deodorant, torch, chocolate and the last seven years of supermarket receipts. 

But what about spare knickers and a tape measure? That threw me.

More than one friend ‘fessed up to those two items.  

The knickers are pretty obvious I suppose, but a tape measure? 

One lady reckons it was because her man, a builder, often messaged her at work asking her to bring back stuff from the hardware shop on the way home. That makes sense, but why do other women carry a tape measure, I wonder? 

There is another story in that, I reckon.

However, the most surprising revelation for me was the startling fact that ladies are actually pack-horses for us slack blokes.

I am guilty.  

If we are off to a BYO restaurant I’ll say, “Would you mind popping the bottle of wine in your handbag, Barbara.”

Or my sunglasses, keys, wallet, camera – anything really.

Except as one friend wrote; “Yes I carry the children’s stuff, and my husband’s wallet, sunglasses and camera, but I draw the line at carrying his fishing gear.”

So how big does a handbag need to be? 

Local librarian Helen Cowen has the answer.

“My great aunt told me when I was 14 (she was 95) that a lady should always have a purse large enough to hold all her personal items so that the extra knickers would never hang over the side. She also told me you needed at least $100 for emergencies.”

“Oh, and always, always match the handbag to your outfit. Your clothes could be cheap, but your handbag, never.”

What brilliant intergenerational wisdom to hand down to a 14 year-old, eh!

Moss Vale architect Kathy Barnsley offered two thoughts that seem to solve much of this handbag riddle.

“Most of the stuff in my (relatively modest sized) handbag is stuff I am carrying for HIM. Secondly, the fascination with the handbag shop is an unending and impossible search for the perfect is like the Holy Grail.” 

Says it all really, doesn’t it?

Let’s finish with Dudley who asked his wife why she always carried his photo in her handbag when she went to work.

“When there is a problem at work, Dudley, no matter how impossible,” said Grace, “I look at your picture and the problem disappears.”

“I can understand that Grace. I’m just an inspiration, a breath of fresh air, aren’t I?” said Dudley smugly.

“Nope!” said Grace firmly. “I see your picture and say to myself, what other problem can there be today that is greater than this one?”


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