Donna Fielder: Shopping gene links women in family

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“I slept with my new purse and took it with me to the potty and to get coffee,” my daughter informed me.

Ahhhhh, she has the gene.

As far back as my grandmother, Flossie (“Bossie” to those who loved her) Dutton, the women of my family have loved to shop, particularly for shoes and handbags.

My mother and her sisters were devoted shoppers, not to mention talkers: The four of them stormed malls in sieges that lasted whole days, all talking at once, charging through stores with their credit cards loaded, taking time out only for the occasional Orange Julius or to call a medic for a clerk who had succumbed to exhaustion.

Mom would have been 88 this last week. She is up in heaven beaming, I’m sure, and making plans for her next visit to the Blessed Boutique or Angel Togs R Us.

I arise each morning and bow to that Mecca of the South, the DSW shoe warehouse, but I had been a little concerned about Christi, whose range of shoe colors tended to different shades of black. The handbag incident gives me hope.

“It’s a Dooney,” she explained. “A sort of light hunter green with tan leather. It’s soooooooooo cute!”

Gravitating toward shades of hot pink, neon green and orange myself, I was a little wary of this mossy green and tan for summer thing. But she’s getting there.

To women, shopping is a sport, much like golf is for men but without so much cursing.

To a woman, shopping for anything is an intense experience.

We can spend 20 minutes in the shampoo aisle of the supermarket deciding whether we want our hair to look like silky mare’s tails or appear to have been rode hard and put up wet. We agonize over whether to buy a candle that smells like freesia or one that exudes the essence of hot buttered rum.

Men will shop for boots. They will shop for plasma TVs. They buy their own golf togs in the fear that their wives will bring them a darling pair of spats.

They depend on their children’s Father’s Day presents for ties, unless they’re lawyers, who apparently hire tie consultants, or CEOs, who have their secretaries always on the lookout for another silk snippet of power red.

Mother was a terror in a department store. She could reduce a seasoned saleswoman to rubble inside five minutes, and I’ve seen hardened store managers cowed into submission by the determination in her hazel eyes as she demanded her money back on a sale item firmly marked “no returns.”

Just looking at that bespectacled, mild-mannered retired librarian, you never would have guessed that under the carefully coiffed hair and sweet demeanor there lay the soul of a Siberian tiger at a zookeeper sale.

She was the only person I ever knew who had her handbags perfectly organized. She changed purses to match her shoes. The way she accomplished this was simple. She had a smaller purse tucked inside the one she carried, and she moved it from bag to bag.

I need a new handbag myself, actually. Can’t possibly continue to carry my winter one, which is red patent, huge and cavernous.

No one seems to agree with me that patent is a neutral, and some shades of orange and purple don’t actually go with it.

I tell people it is my traveling desk, but even that doesn’t explain some of the things that float to the top at times.

Yesterday, for instance, I reached in for my notepad and came out with a nubby rubber jar opener.

I also found a large lint brush and a hanky so careworn I wouldn’t show it in public if my nose sprang a geyser.

My America Online instant message super-buddy icon is a cute purple handbag with attitude. Super-buddy icons, in case you don’t AOL, appear when you send instant messages. You pick them out to match your personality.

My purse uses her handle to jump rope when I’m not talking.

She says things like “shop till you drop,” “stylin’,” and “oooooh, new shoes!”

She may be the reincarnation of my mother.

I like to think so.

Happy birthday, Mom.

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

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