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Playing the game: The unexpected search for the perfect-sized handbag

By June Mathews

Special to The Tribune

For the second time in six months, I changed purses yesterday. I usually carry the same purse for a year or more at a stretch buteven then, I consider switching to a new one a chore.

Used to be, when I was working in downtown offices and dressing to the nines, I’d match my purses to my shoes daily. But somewhere along the way, I realized the world would likely not stop turning if I carried a brown purse while wearing black shoes.  And if it did, I probably wasn’t going to need a purse or shoes anyway. (If I ever see a picture of a white-robed heavenly being with matching accessories, I might need to rethink that.)

But it was past time for the unwieldy style I’d been carrying to go. Things were getting lost in there. Seriously lost. I mean lost to the point that I called Jimmie from the church one day because I couldn’t find my keys.

“Could you bring me the extra key to my car, please?” I whined.“I’ve lost mine.”

“They’re not in your purse?” he asked.

“Would I have called you if they were?” I replied rather testily.

But after hanging up the phone, I dug around once more, and way down in a black hole at the bottom of my refrigerator-sized handbag were my keys.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Clearing out some of thewadded-up tissues and store receipts would have helped, but you never know when you’re going to need all that stuff.

Remember the old “Let’s Make a Deal” game show and how Monty Hall would name an item then pay a woman cash if she could pull it out of her purse? Well, maybe somebody will one day offer me cash for my purse junk.

Hey, it could happen.

On the upside, when I called Jimmie, who was halfway to the church by then, to tell him I’d found the keys and to confess they’d been in my purse all along, he groused a bit then basically gave me some rare encouragement to go shopping.

“You need to buy a smaller purse,” he said.

I had to bite my tongue to keep from reminding him of an incident only a few months earlier when he was struggling to extract a chunky wallet chockfull of coins and discount cardsfrom my previous receptacle.

“You need to buy a bigger purse,” he’d said.

So, I did, and now he was complaining about the very one I’d purchased. I have say, though, I didn’t mean to buy one THAT big. It honestly looked smaller in the store. But maybe I’m just genetically predisposed.

MeeMaw Harper’s pocketbook, a deceptively small-sounding name for the hunk of faux leather she toted, didn’t serve merely as a purse, but as a security measure too. She could have walloped any would-be purse snatcher to kingdom come with that thing. And she probably could have played a fair round of “Let’s Make a Deal” with whatever all she carried in it, too.

At any rate, after the missing keys incident, I did as my husband suggested and bought a new purse. It’s not huge, but it’s not exactly small, so I can still carry most of the stuff I did before. Most importantly, I can locate my keys – even if they’re in the bottom of it – with relative ease.

And since it hadn’t been all that long since I’d changed purses, the switchover wasn’t as bad as I’d feared.

I have to say, though, if the current “Let’s Make a Deal” guy stops me on the street and offers me a wad of cash to pull a deck of cards, a pack of stale crackers and a slightly worn pair of Christmas socks out of my purse, I’m going to be real upset I left those things at home.

Email June Mathews at

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