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Monday, December 10, 2012

Joyce, Plato, Karma, Purses

I once wrote a post titled Frugality and Destiny, wherein I wondered if my destiny is to be super-frugal and there's no escape. I am once again thinking that may be true.

Recently--in honor of my big birthday coming in 14 months--I decided to buy a handbag. Not a super expensive one, but a medium one. I am a teacher, so middle-class, and have never bought a new bag. How weird is that?

So, like the narrator of Araby (great story by James Joyce about the quest for beauty and the disillusionment en route), I set out on my quest. Only mine was through the internet. Eventually, I ordered 4 bags, planning to leave Miss Em with the final choice, since she is the decision-maker of our family.

The other day--needing a break from the often dispiriting labor of processing final exams--I headed to Goodwill. Unlike the narrator of Araby, who finds that Araby (a bazaar) is not what he thought it would be (an exotic, exciting place), I am never disillusioned with Goodwill. I love it! Everyone is equal: you find what you find.

Most handbags sported by the shoppers are--let's face it--fakes: L Vuitton, Gucci, and Coach. In fact, one reason I would never buy a real bag by LV is because everyone would just assume it was fake anyway, given my reputation for frugality. And most of the bags on display are fakes too.

On that recent trip, among the many fakes and free bags with purchase (ugh--Estee Lauder, stop cluttering up the universe with free bags) were two bags: they were copies of two of the Michael Kors bags I ordered! The Kors bags, in turn, were inspired by even more expensive bags by Hermes. A copy of a copy of a copy. Hello Plato! (In honor of the many students who use these cheater-websites, here is a link to one of the worst)

These bags--and others--were being snatched up with glee by the shoppers. I had an image of sporting one of my four candidates, only to be asked if I got it at Goodwill in the shopping frenzy. Kind of deflating.

Then I wandered by the tote bags. There I saw a Baggallini tote. We recently got Miss Em a small suitcase by that company (at Twice as Nice, a great consignment store in Alabama). The tote was OK. I realized it would serve my needs. I need a bag to carry to class with files of papers in it. It wasn't too bad looking, though I would prefer a solid color to the gray/black zebra-ish print I got. It was $2.99, way less than the fake bags on the special-priced rack.

So should I thank the forces of Karma for bringing me an inexpensive bag that will serve some of my needs? Or is it just a reminder that frugality is, indeed, my destiny?


Shelley said...

I don't think it's an either-or, I think it's both. And I am thankful that I can embrace frugality. So many struggle with the concept and pay dearly for it.

Duchesse said...

Yes, I agree with Shelley's point. I have a practical, durable bag similar to Bagellini, and a briefcase made of that ballistic nylon. They are useful, light and you don't have to worry if caught in rain. They come in pretty colours and are well-designed: pockets where you need them, etc.

But, they are not as beautiful as my good leather ones. (I refuse to carry identifiable status bags or replica bags.) I don't have a lot of bags, about 4-5 plus a couple of small carryon duffles for travel.

SarahB said...

Usually I have no sophisticated comments to submit, but I truly love your blog and the regular commenters. However, I know Baggellini via TJ Max. The slim 3 zip bag is PERFECT for me an avid walker with my young Labrador. I often chuckle at the fact in a pinch the detachable strap would make a dog leash!.

Frugal Scholar said...

@shelley--I don't even have to try to be frugal...I just am.
@Duchesse--It seems like most bags--if not replicas--allude to something or other.
@SarahB--Thanks for reminding me about TJC. One of my colleagues--who has FOUR dogs--got that same 3 zip bag there. Thanks for the comment!