The other day I was at a party, trying to have a conversation with an old friend I hadn’t seen for a really long time. Trying, but not succeeding. We kept getting interrupted by her handbag.
Every few minutes, she would either stop talking mid--sentence to adjust her ridiculously oversized handbag this way or that. A dozen or so instances later, I suggested she place her handbag on the table, next to my handbag, so we could have an uninterrupted chat.
Her response was an exaggerated, offended, mock gasp. “I didn’t spend Dh5,000 on this handbag to put it on the table!” she said, looking hurt. “I need to carry it. So people can see it.”
And for the rest of the evening she struggled to balance her drink and her plate of food in one hand while the other was kept busy, lovingly clutching the Dh5,000 handbag.
It reminded me why I hadn’t seen her in a really long time: she was a “bag lady”.
That’s my term of endearment for that particular species of woman we have all encountered – the one possessed by her handbag. The one who doesn’t wear her handbag, but whose handbag wears her.
She’s easy to spot. She’ll be the one whose handbag walks into the room before her. The one whose handbag, most of the time, is louder and flashier than her outfit. The one whose body, when she poses for a picture, is angled precisely so that the handbag resting in the crook of her elbow faces the camera full frontal. It’s hilarious to have three or more of these women in the same picture. It’s like a line of promotions girls displaying the latest in a range of bags.
Sometimes, when I’m waiting at Eppco for my Burger King order to get ready, I like to make a game out of picking up the nearest magazine, turning to the society pages and spotting the bag ladies. It’s scary how frequently the same ones feature on these pages. Same faces, same bags, same ridiculous pose.
If you ever cross paths with one of them, be very mindful of the object of their obsession. I’ve suffered on more than one occasion for my lack of regard. I was out for coffee once with a bunch of girls. There were no more empty seats when another girl joined us, so I picked up the bag that was occupying the seat next to me and set it on the floor so the new girl could sit. Almost immediately the room reverberated with a high-pitched shriek as the owner of the bag came bounding across the room.
“Don’t ever, ever put my handbag on the floor!” she said, glaring at me. “It’s a real Louis Vuitton, not a fake!”
But it’s got little metal feet at the base, the leather will never touch the floor, I wanted to tell her. But there’s no talking to these bag ladies, so I just let it go.
After all, being the bigger person entails smiling politely at someone who is acting like a moron, while secretly imagining punching them in the face. In this case, also secretly imagining going to work on said handbag with a pair of really sharp poultry shears.
Seeing as that will most likely remain an unfulfilled fantasy, I’ll stand here in this corner with my modest Dh75 clutch (Jane Norman sale, thank you very much), which doesn’t make me feel compelled to display it at various angles and which I can put down without suffering an aneurysm. All the functionality with none of the heartache – it’s a wonder this thing didn’t cost a whole lot more.
The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi girl living in Dubai