Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Aunt Mae is so good to me. As my godmother I expect a certain amount more attention than most nieces get but my aunt often goes above and beyond in her spoiling of me. As you know from a previous blog I am a chronic recycler. My aunt is a chronic shopper. We complement one another in that I’m always first in line when she’s ready to trade up items she no longer has use for. I’m writing this on her hand-me-down computer. It works because she buys only the best so “used” is like new the way I do my own personal shopping.

Not too long ago I called her saying that when she’s ready to retire one of her purses to send it to me. I waited eagerly for my new-used Prada, Louis, or Coach. What I received instead was a complete surprise. A large brown box appeared on my doorstep. Upon opening the outer box I found a beautiful brown box wrapped in ribbon.

I removed the cover and there sat an exquisite bag that didn’t look at all pre-owned. This was a brand new Coach bag, eggshell-white trimmed in green – just my colors. It’s perfect size, too, large enough to carry all the crap I regularly stuff into my bag. And that’s the problem; how could I tarnish this piece of art with the contents of my old purse? Worse yet, how could I pull off such a fashionable accessory?

I called Aunt Mae to thank her, promising to take good care of her gift. Take care of it I would, for I knew the purse would probably never leave its box. And it didn’t until about three weeks later. Getting ready to attend a business meeting I chided myself, “I’m a business woman, so look like one.”

I took the Coach box containing the purse down from the top shelf of my closet. I transferred from the old to the new; then put them all back into my old purse. I did this routine at least three times before I gave in. I forced myself to walk out of the door with my new purse; it’s a purse for crippe’s sake. At the meeting I found myself moving the bag from the floor to a chair to my lap, worried sick about anything marking it. I hid it from view not wanting undue attention paid to it or its owner. After the meeting I had to make another stop. Sure enough when I stood at the reception desk the young woman remarked, “That bag could be my retirement!” That’s it, I told myself, I can’t pull this off. Back into the box and onto the shelf the purse went.

Telling my friends of my oh-so-unfortunate (sarcasm here) quandary, their response is to take the bag to a Coach store for cash or credit. “Oh, I couldn’t possibly,” I say, “Aunt Mae will visit sometime and I better be using that purse!”

While I am utterly grateful to my aunt for her generous spirit and love of me, I just can’t wrap my head around such extravagance as my own personal possession. I am petrified of ballpoint pens marks, gum that some inconsiderate fool spit on the ground, or my ratty-old makeup bag giving the Coach bag apoplexy because of its inferiority. Remember me? I can’t throw out old tin cans. So there sits my beautiful new Coach bag all snug and secure in its box, on the shelf, under armed guard. Maybe someday I’ll have the nerve to give it light but until then I’ll keep using the Anne Klein bag I took from my best friend’s Goodwill pile.

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