The Coach Bag Experiment

I have a Coach bag, and it’s making life a little weird. Mr. P was terribly impressed by my successful production of two additional individuals last year, and he went wildly overboard for Christmas. By now I’ve had a few months to settle into my gorgeous, well-made and roomy bag, but I don’t know that I’ll ever be completely at home in it, spectacular as it is.

The weirdness is two-fold. I don’t tend to run glamorous errands with my brood, so it’s strange to be out with Billy the Kid and realize my purse is the most well-dressed of our trio. I started to notice that I had become catagorizable soon after I started going out with her majesty. I’m one of those stay-at-home moms whose makeup and bag don’t match up with the rest of her. (My Sephora addiction will be an entirely separate post). I always assumed those women armored themselves with their fancy Louis Vuitton or what have you so that even in their drool-laden mom-ness, everyone would know, more or less, in which tax bracket their husbands fell. It never occurred to me that the bag might have been given to a woman without the resources to amass a new wardrobe that would compliment her misleading status symbol.

The second change I’ve noticed is much creepier. Until now I’ve floated invisibly through my neighborhood Hannaford and local Target and Old Navy with my standard uniform of jeans, brown jacket, hiking sneakers and sweater bag, but recently I’ve received a record-setting amount of eye contact and head-bob from my now fellow brand-slingers. I was much more comfortable when the same women assumed I was a few class notches lower, their sense of superiority somehow smugly satisfying. I’d never flaunt my Daughters of the American Revolution lineage that traces back to the Mayflower, but my inner monologue isn’t always as gracious when it feels itself being judged. Now, however, I can’t make a single mental comment about a stranger’s ensemble without glancing at my bag and reprimanding myself for being such a vacuous snob. It’s really quite exhausting.

Why do I continue to carry my bag on a daily basis? Mr. P didn’t just order the top-selling Coach bag because he knew I loved them. He took a huge gamble in the gift, since I’ve never expressed any interest in expensive accessories, and my unhelpful parameters for the type of Christmas gift I’d like (he asked, otherwise I wouldn’t have volunteered) were pretty and superfluous. I considered his offer of a portable dishwasher, but after a year of being pregnant and then sick, I felt like something more along the lines of a pony. Not a pony, obviously (I don’t ride and they’re ridiculously expensive) but something in that vein. So my wonderful husband went to the Coach store, and spent an hour with several eagerly helpful clerks considering what color and style would go best with my “wardrobe,” which size would be most practical, and which wallet would coordinate best. I am an unbelievably lucky gal. I’d never seen a Coach bag that I found appealing until I opened the box under the tree Christmas morning, and I had never even seen the actual Coach logo, so I had no idea what was coming until the parting of the tissue paper.

More than anything, the bag represents to me one of my favorite of Mr. P’s many enviable qualities: his sense of whimsy. So much went into the selection of this particular item, requiring such attention to the details of my daily life and the girlier aspects of my personality. It required that he, for a few moments, give a rat’s ass about designer handbags, without any guarantee that the gift would elicit the intended level of glee. He shmoozed with salespeople, he wrapped it out of sight. So even if I remain fully conscious of the concerning lack of irony in my possession of a Coach bag, it’s worth the frequent reminder of how hard Mr. P does, indeed, rock it.

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