My mother and I have a running joke about a purse we both saw in a store, both wanted, but which I ultimately got. But a few weeks ago, she got the last laugh.
Mom had stopped to inspect a black leather bag she knew almost right away was only so-so. While she was doing that, I happened to spot the most perfect brown handbag imaginable. Not too chocolate. Not too beige. Slouchy without being messy. Optimum number of pockets.
I held up the bag. “Oh,” my mom said. “I want it too!”
I said. “There’s only one.”
“I LOVE it,” she said.
“Well,” I said “what have I told you about not spending too much time trying to convince yourself that so-so things are worth it simply because the price is right? If you hadn’t been looking at that black bag, you’d have seen this awesome brown one.”
I am the educator in our shopping expeditions, having inherited a well-evolved shopping gene from my dad’s three sisters.
“You’re right,” she sighed. “Finders keepers.”
“That’s okay, I was joking. You take it.”
“No. You’ve been needing a brown bag and this one’s just perfect.”
We did the “you take it-no-you-take-it” for about half an hour. Then we decided I would buy the brown bag, and she would buy the black bucket purse we had both admired at the Barney’s outlet.
Fast forward about three years, to August, 2010: I have moved to New York and discovered the Fossil bag, still a wardrobe staple, is also the perfect New York bag. I have also had my heart stomped on, and adopted a cat I’ve named Eleanor.
Being a slightly neurotic new single cat mom, I take Eleanor for a full medical work-up. The vet sees something in El’s blood test and orders a urine test.
I won’t go into gory details, but the vet tells me to clean out Eleanor’s litter box, and not to refill it with cat litter. That way she’ll pee right onto the liner and I can collect the sample and bring it to the vet. Easy.
So one night I clean out the litterbox. In the morning, I let Eleanor out of my room and figure she’ll make a beeline for her box.
But she doesn’t. I shower. Still no litterbox action. I make coffee. Then, as I’m about to leave for work, I see her.
Eleanor, crouching on my favorite brown Fossil purse with the optimal number of pockets. I’m so shocked I just stand there and watch as a small trickle spreads across the not-too-chocolate-not-too-beige leather.
Eleanor is usually so tidy she covers her food bowl with the corner of a towel when she’s done eating. But there she is peeing into my bag.
I spend the next half hour cleaning, disinfecting, or throwing away the contents of my bag. All the while Eleanor watches as though to say (and I realize I’m anthropomorphizing a bit here), “that’s what you get for messing with my toilette.”
To make matters grosser, I am determined to get this test over with, so I dump the liquid contents of the bag into a tupperware, and take it on the subway with me in a dainty Aveda bag as though I’ve stopped on my way to work to buy a $30 bottle of shampoo, instead of to drop off my cat’s urine at the vet’s office.
I call my mom, so we can share the laugh. (Can you really do much else but laugh when your cat squats and pees into your purse?)
The first thing my mom asks is: “It wasn’t by any chance your brown Fossil Bag, was it?”
“Yes, in fact it was.”
“Oh,” she says.
“Nothing. It’s just… hmmm… guess you didn’t end up with that nice Fossil bag after all.”
“Forget it mom,” I say. “I am still the owner of the most perfect brown leather bag ever made. This is New York. I’m going to find a leather cleaner who will make this bag as nice as the day I bought it. And it will still be all mine.”