By: Mary Fran Bontempo
To hear an audio version of this post, click the play arrow below.

Apparently, I have commitment issues.

Do not tell this to my husband, to whom I have been married for thirty-one and a half years. He might start to worry. Or, he might start to wonder why I didn’t inform of this before now, providing him with a possible out.
But it’s not about him, or marriage, or family. In those areas, I’m all in, whether they like it or not.
This is about a handbag.
Handbags are to most women what the instrument panel is to the pilot of a 747. It’s command central, where our lives reside when we step out of our houses and into the public domain.
But that’s not all. Handbags are also a fashion statement, giving the world hints about just who a woman is by their size, shape, color and material.
A structured satchel says, “I’m together. I know what I want.” An over the shoulder hobo carry-all gives off a bohemian, “Hey, I’m chill,” vibe. And a gigantic, suitcase-sized purse says, “I use way too many products and I carry my children in here.” Plus, there are bags made from leather, synthetic or all-vegan materials, announcing some of their owners’ deeper held beliefs without saying a word.
Add to all of that the fact that a decent (read: one that will hold up for more than a month) purse can set you back some serious cash (I just saw a Gucci bag online for $1750. I mean, really?) and it’s enough to make a woman break into a cold sweat when the time comes to replace a bag.
It’s not a job I undertake lightly, or with any pleasure. I’m somewhat particular (outrageously controlling) about…pretty much everything, so I know when I decide to buy a new handbag, everyone is in for a grueling adventure.
I say everyone because my M.O. is to go to the store, buy a bag, bring it home and force everyone in the house to weigh in—on color, style, the number of pockets and compartments (you can never have too many), the length of straps or handles—every aspect of the purchase. Then, because I’m never satisfied (insert knowing snorts from my family, here), I return the bag in question, purchase another one, and proceed to repeat the entire process. Over and over and over.
It’s ridiculous. I’m ridiculous. I know this, yet I followed the pattern above to the letter, starting three weeks ago, before finally settling, after much consternation and threats from my family, on a bright yellow bag with nine (count ‘em—nine!) compartments for all of my junk, two handles plus a shoulder strap, and a style that’s somewhere between ladylike structured and hobo chic, thus addressing my schizophrenic personality issues.
The color is happy and fabulous, and is my response to the fact that I cannot wear yellow because it makes me look awful, as confirmed by a dear friend who once informed me, “Oh no, that’s not doing you any favors,” when I held a yellow blouse in front of me at a store. (You know who you are.) Plus, I can now find my phone when it rings as well as my keys, in fewer than 10 minutes, a feat to which every woman aspires when she finds herself searching frantically through her own personal black hole at least four times a day.
So I’m committed. I moved all of my stuff from my other bag (an ugly process) and have been carrying my new command central for four days, now.
And I love it, I really do. I think. But I have the receipt in case I change my mind.
Just don’t tell my family.

And here, again, is my daughter, Laura’s, really hilarious take on handbags–well worth repeating!

Ode to a Handbag
If I Could Date a Handbag
No troubles I would have
Everything I’d need would be in that little bag
I could open it when I wanted,
and spend all of its money
I’d never have to kiss it or even call it honey.
When I got sick and tired of the size or the color
I’d go straight to TJ Maxx and buy another lover.
The end.
Where are you a “commitment-phobe?” Click “comments” below and share!
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