Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's in the Bag

My mom loves bags.

I mean this on so many levels.

Like most women, or at least many women, or at least most of the women I know, she loves purses. My mom loves teeny tiny purses in neutral colors on long straps that she can securely wear around her neck and tucked under her opposite arm. I think my girls were calling that "Memaw Style' as soon as they could talk (ie: when you put on your Brownie sash, you wear it Memaw Style). She likes her handbags like she likes her home - a place for everything and everything in its place. Use all the space you have and use it efficiently. My friend Karen also loves purses, but she likes hers in rich colors and big enough to contain the kitchen sink, 'cause you never know when you or someone else is going to need something. How grand, to reach into the depths of that mammoth bag, root around a little, and come up with 'just the thing'. My mom would've sucked on 'Let's Make a Deal'. Karen would've rocked. Me? Aw, you know me. I'm a big ole show off. Most of the bags I carry are bags I've made. I don't have a 'type', like Karen and my mom do, but I am a big ole whore for a compliment. My most recent bags have been: an oversized rather shapeless hobo with no compartments - fulled rather than felted - knit in a gorgeous green/purple variegated wool and an interesting pattern. I could never find anything in that bag. Next up: a very small black clutch - this one was crocheted with a stiff shiny nylon and made cool by its impromptu old T-shirt lining. It was way too small. Now I'm sporting a really pretty purple mid-sized bag - strongly felted - with 2 outer pockets. So far so good.

I hadn't really planned to talk that much about purse bags. Indulge me - let me call them pocket books just once. Thanks. That bugs my kids a lot, so, of course, I say it a lot. "Let's go!" "As soon as I grab my pocketbook!"

I had really intended to talk about my mothers tendency to use as many plastic bags as possible. Plastic grocery bags, ziploc baggies, larger department store plastic bags - she LOVES 'em, and is never without a couple. When shopping for the girls, she will ask for seperate bags for what she buys each of them - even though it's all coming home to the same place. "Bag those seperately, could you?"

Once I stopped at her house on the way home from a long trip. She packed me a lunch to eat in the car on the way home. She handed me a nice insulated canvas lunch bag and told me to return it next time I saw her. I thanked her and got on my way. A few hours later, when I decided a little lunch might be just the thing, I opened the lunch bag. I knew there was a sandwich in there - I'd watched her make it - but I couldn't see it just yet. I pulled, out of the insulated lunch bag, a large ziploc bag. Inside that was a can of Diet Coke and one of those little cold packs. And some smaller bags. I pulled out the largest of them - a medium sized ziploc - which contained 2 paper towels and a smaller ziploc which contained my sandwich. But wait - there was more in my large ziploc bag - there were some celery and carrot sticks in, you guessed it, a snack sized baggie. There was also a Tastycake (man, I love visiting out east! Can't get Tastycakes here...) which was wrapped in napkins and secured in its own ziploc. "So it wouldn't get squooshed" I was told, when I asked later why a packaged lunch cake needed it's own baggie. So my simple lunch used 5 disposable plastic bags. I suppose I could be glad she packed the whole thing in the insulated lunch bag instead of in a grocery bag.

Do I have to tell you how much this woman loves gift bags? I've seen her buy gifts in pre-packaged little gift bags, then put them in an additional gift bag, then put several of THOSE gift bags in a larger gift bag, THEN pack folded larger gift bags in THAT "in case anyone needs one".

I've made an issue of it on more than one occasion, trying to explain the whole bad for the environment thing, and she says, "of course you're right" then goes right on doing it.

A couple years ago I bought her some reusable canvas shopping bags, and she thought they were great. She loved the concept so much she bought them for everyone she knows. She uses them to carry things in. Things which have - you've guessed it - already been packed into plastic bags. It's just a bag to carry your bags in. I've given up. Old dog, new tricks, all that. She has at least become a little more aware, though. She told me recently about asking for an extra bag somewhere and then confiding to the salesgirl that "My daughter would have a fit if she knew I was asking for that." So there's that. I'm on her shoulder, like Stacy and Clinton are on mine. She just chooses to ignore me, like I choose to ignore them.

But here's where it gets disturbing - where you start pondering apples and trees and how far the secondary falls from the primary...

While I do try to use as few plastic bags as possible, I LOVE reusable canvas bags. I have no less than 10 in the front seat of my car right now, as well as 2 insulated bags. There are more in the trunk. There are always several at the top of the basement stairs (where the plastic grocery bags used to be kept) and there are usually some in use around the house (containing a project, for example). Sometimes? When I go shopping? I'll forget to take one in with me on purpose - just so I can buy another one! I have them from many different stores in many different styles and sizes. I have favorites. And, if you're on your toes, you're probably thinking, "hey, ya big ole crafty compliment whore, why don't you make your own darn bags?" I HEAR you! And I think I should.

Oh dear.

This can't end well.


smarmygal said...

1. Why were you up blogging before 5 a.m. Now THAT is truly where it "gets disturning."

2. I HEART the word "pocketbook." It reminds me of my gramma (sorry) and it makes me want one of those very cool retro pocketbooks with the little clasky tihing on it (that you can now onlyu find on change purses).

3. I love a good bag, too. My particular brand of purse narcotic is the Kate Spade knockoff. Anything purchased in NY's hinatown gets me going, though. (Ask Osi about our last adventure in Chinatown, whydoncha?)

Tammy Howard said...

1. I wasn't - my time stamp is wonky.

2. pocketbook is totally a gramma word! And I used to have a little wicker bag with what I think is the sort of nifty clasp you're describing.

3. I'll see you a Chinatown Kate Spade story and raise you a Coach story that involves white slavery. Intrigued?

Deb on the Rocks said...

I love the description of your mom's packed lunch style! It's like a Russian doll, opening to show the tinier doll,and then the tiniest doll. My mom is more the "cram everything in a leftover cottage cheese container because Ziplock bags are a Madison Avenue trick to get you to spend money" type. I try to tell her about microwaving old plastic, but I think it's too late for that bus.

Swine said...

You know what I think? Anyone who takes such care in packing a lunch must really adore the lunch's recipient. Forget the bags, that shit's wrapped in hugs.

Tammy Howard said...

Okay, what I DIDN'T tell you was that it was an egg salad sandwich. Now my mom's egg salad is nothing special - no secret ingredient - she makes it exactly the same minimalist way that I make my own. But when she makes it for me, it just tastes so. much. better. I've always attributed that to love. Now it's a love sandwich wrapped in a hug? Goodness, when did WE become such saps?