Donna Fielder: Big bags can come with own baggage

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It’s about the circumference of a stop sign but much redder and shiny to boot. A family of four could live comfortably inside with room in a zip compartment for a pet and even a renter or two.

It’s my new sexy, fashionable big bag, and I love it.

I think it goes with everything, but Sherry disagrees.

“Red is not a neutral color,” she argues.

“Oh, but patent leather is neutral,” I told her during one of our discussions. If we hadn’t been arguing about neutrals, we would have been arguing about something else. That’s the nature of our 20-year friendship. If you took out all the times we were crossways and not speaking, we’d practically be strangers.

“Red patent is the new black patent, and you know black goes anywhere, anytime,” I said.

We were on the phone but I knew she was rolling her eyes.

Before the red bag, I had a puffy silver one. Stuff tended to disappear in that bag.

It all settled to the bottom somehow, and I had to reach in elbow-deep and fumble through makeup and reporter paraphernalia and pepper spray and the occasional lethal-force weapon for something that should have been as easy to find as my wallet.

It’s red patent, too, and came from Harrod’s in London. I bought it last December during a layover at Heathrow Airport. It was getting the screaming-red wallet that spurred me to ditch the black-hole-like silver bag and buy the shiny red one. They matched!

Mom’s wallets always matched her handbags, and her handbags always matched her shoes. She was one classy, fine-looking woman, and I inherited her matchy-matchy genes if not her neat genes or her perfect teeth.

Sherry and I went handbag shopping together. I bought a slender gray number and she bought one like it in black. We congratulated ourselves on our good taste. But when I started to change out my stuff, I found that after my keys and notebook, there wasn’t room for anything else. Not even my wallet from across the pond.

She had the same trouble, so we each took ours back. I’m not sure what she actually wound up with but I strutted proudly out of the store with the shiny red stop sign.

I don’t know that I can tout good taste with it, but the thing is smashing for sure. And when the light catches it right, it can blind oncoming pedestrians for miles.

I’m careful with it in stores.

I read police reports all the time about shoplifters, and I know what they look like. They’re furtive and shifty-eyed and they carry big empty handbags they can stuff full of booty like lacey underwear, used Buicks and 55-inch plasma TVs.

Security officers glom onto them the minute they hit a store and watch the flat purse get fatter and fatter before they pass the checkout line without paying. Then they snatch them up and haul them to the hoosegow.

Those horizontal-stripped hoosegow outfits make your butt look big and I don’t want to go there.

I can feel their eyes on me and my big bag instantly when I enter a store. I get this burning between my shoulder blades, and I’m afraid to touch anything at all. So I stroll the aisles with my hands clasped behind my back, straining and stretching my neck to see the price tags. I can hear them talking about me.

“See those shifty eyes? See that big, flat, red purse? You can bet she’s gonna try to walk out with a blender in there.”

There’s room for plenty more stuff in this bag. So far it holds necessities like notebooks, seven pens, reading glasses, three lipsticks, a bottle of water, hand cream, a full-sized lint brush for cat hair relief and a purple Crimestoppers mood pencil that turns pink when you roll it in your palm.

“This is definitely a statement handbag,” the clerk said as she rummaged for a shopping sack big enough to contain it.

“You’re right,” I said. “Unfortunately, the statement it’s making is that this woman carries too much stuff.”


DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is

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