Prodigious Purses On Planes

The other day I was waiting at a gate area for my flight when the gate agent made the familiar announcement about how passengers would only be permitted to board with one piece of carry-on luggage and “a small, personal item, such as a purse.”

mary-poppins-bag-600x345And I thought:  a purse is a “small, personal item”?  Since when?

As I looked around at the women waiting to board, I saw nothing “small” about the prodigious purses they were lugging around.  The gate agent, and the airlines, clearly have missed the explosive growth of purses into storage devices of colossal proportions and have never sat next to a fellow passenger who is struggling to jam her sprawling, bulging “small, personal item” — i.e., her purse — into the available space under the seat in the row ahead.

The days of “clutches” and dainty “handbags” that could house a tube of lipstick and compact mirror and be placed on a restaurant table next to the glass of wine are gone.  Now “purses” tend to be capacious, multi-compartment sacks carried over the shoulder and used to store laptops, wallets, cell phones, pens, appointment books, food, bottled water, articles of clothing, make-up items, toys and snacks to keep young children quiet, and other assorted paraphernalia, besides.  They’re like Mary Poppins’ magic bag, capable of carrying just about anything.  And forget about expressing wonder at the notion of “purse dogs” — you could probably fit a Great Dane into some of the stupendous purses of the modern era.

I don’t begrudge modern women their enormous purses; when I go on the road, I always carry an over-the-shoulder bag because it’s handy.  But can we please stop with the reference to “small, personal items”?  The “purses” of the modern world really aren’t purses, they’re luggage.

Colossal Keychain

I carry my house key in my right front pants pocket.  Hence, I want a functional key chain that is as small and unobtrusive as possible.

Kish carries her keys in a gigundous purse filled with assorted bric-a-brac.  Hence, she wants a key chain that will stand out as she sifts through shifting mountains of purse debris.

Guess whose keys these are?

Curse Of The Purse

The other day I was pondering why Kish’s key ring weighs approximately 30 pounds, and I concluded that purses are to blame.

This began because I needed the key to Russell’s car, which is on Kish’s key ring — along with 50 other keys, tokens, and bric-a-brac.  I think the key to the diary she kept in 7th grade may be on there somewhere.  Her key ring features a small tag, added at the insistence of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, that reads:  “To avoid back injury, please lift with your legs.”  The heft of the key ring is such that, wielded by an expert, it could stun a charging rhino.

Why is this so?  I’m convinced it’s all about purses.  There has been a clear correlation between increasing size of the key ring and the increasing size of the purse.  Long gone are the days of the small clutch.  No, we are in a period of purse proliferation, where women seem to be competing for the largest, roomiest purse.  Kish’s latest skirts the fine line between purse and duffel bag.

If your purse is huge, there is no incentive to edit the key ring and remove the stray key from a car sold five years ago.  With the luxury of near-infinite space, you can lug around every key you’ve ever used — secure in the knowledge that you’ll never be caught embarrassingly keyless at a crucial moment.

Did the need for a weighty key ring lead to the development of gigantic purses, or did advances in purse technology produce hernia-inducing key rings?  Forget the chicken and the egg — what came first, the enormous purse or the heavyweight key ring?