Back-to-school time is right around the corner. I can tell because all the stores are selling everything from Number Two Pencils to “Go Bears!” sweatshirts.
When I was a kid, I dreaded the actual going-back-to-school part, but I loved all the accessories that came with it—new clothes, cool pencil cases, fresh Crayola crayons, and a brand new Annie Oakley lunch box with a matching thermos that didn’t smell funny.
Now that I’m a teacher instead of a student, returning to school in a couple of weeks, I need a few new things. Unfortunately, with the economy about to receive an F for Failing, I can’t afford a new wardrobe, let alone a new pencil. The old ones with have to do. But there’s one accessory I have to have before I return to the classroom: A new purse.
The fashion statement a purse makes today is just as important as my Annie Oakley lunchbox made back in the day. Unfortunately, purses cost a lot more than lunch pails. I can’t afford a real Kate Spade or Marc Jacobs—not in this economy. Yet I see women all over the Valley with designer bags hanging from their shoulders. Even bag ladies have designer bags. And now I know why.
I asked one of my students how she managed to afford her expensive purse. “I bought it on a street corner in the city,” she whispered. “It’s a knock-off.” Suddenly I wanted a knock-off purse. My old bag was ready to be recycled. The strap had snapped when I loaded it with too much chocolate. The buckle fell off when I tried to kill a spider with it. And the inside was sticky from the lollipop I should never have given my grandson. Yep, Mama needed a brand new bag.
So what is it about having a handbag covered with Cs that would cause an honest woman to risk going to jail? That’s for a psychology teacher to determine. Meanwhile, I headed for the city in search of one of those eye-catching carts.
“Pull over!” I commanded my husband, then leapt from the car to peruse all the pretty purses. The “salesman” carried all the bogus brand names—names I’d come to love as well as those of my own children. After checking for undercover police, I picked out a pink and purple patchwork purse that wouldn’t go with anything in my closet, and paid the recent parolee wearing a wig and sunglasses all the cash I had. I walked away feeling like one of the girls from “Sex and the City.”
The “designer bag” self destructed before I even got home.
At that point I gave up crime and scoured the discount stores for marked-down bags. I found an adorable Dooney and Bourke at half price and snatched the little bumblebee-embossed bag off the rack, thrilled to have an authentic purse, even if I had to pay more than I could afford. At least I wouldn’t have to go to jail. I still keep an eye out for those fake bag carts, but the thrill of the hunt has worn off, now that every female on the planet has a designer bag—real or fake. I’m after something a little different in the way of an accessory, that’s even more hip and trendy. Like a High School Musical lunch box.