Bag It

So all over the Internet, according to my Twitter feed, there seems to be a rash of weeping and hand-wringing because a fashion designer named Kate Spade was found dead. Holy priorities, Batman.

Don’t get me wrong: suicide from depression is always a sad thing. Take it from someone who lost a best childhood friend that way, largely, I’m fairly sure, because her mother loved a bunch of retarded kids more than her own brilliant daughter and continually forced the daughter to interact with them. I remember the hushed explanations, the mealy platitudes reported to me from the funeral service — thanks to dysfunctional everybody, I didn’t know she was dead till she had been in the ground for a month — and the posthumous denigration of someone who was suffering. I remember clearly that the parent who had all the time in the world for the feeble-minded curtly told her own daughter to “do something about herself” when her first year in pre-med went down in flames from her emotional struggles. I have enough bitterness about the way depressed people are treated to curdle the sea.

But all this sentimentality about handbags? There are people online rhapsodizing about the “aspirational” nature of the designer product and what it meant to them — some sort of image of “adult womanhood” — as if a handbag were more than just a fucking container to carry things around in, and as if we need to carry so many fucking things around.

I have two clear memories of people who cared jack shit about handbags. One was an epicene overprivileged blonde skinny woman in a toy job at the first gym where I ever worked, who drawled “I found a wonderful sale on Anne Klein. Are you into Anne Klein?” “I’m heavily into Sears and Montgomery Ward, myself,” I replied, thinking of my $3.60 an hour part time paycheck which for Skinny Blonde was just the garnish on a placeholder gig so she could say she was a real! working! person before going home to her parents’ fancy mansion. The other was a sad matter of someone who had only been able to survive, after escaping an abusive family, by finding generous gentlemen. Things that money bought were earnests of permanence to her. I was nicer to her.

Bags? What the fuck even is it about bags? A nuisance, a drag, a thing to look after, something that no man in history has ever felt he had to own. I went from a backpack to a hip pack to a key wallet over the last thirty years and I never really looked at who designed the things. You use them. You try to find something that doesn’t drag you down. It isn’t your identity.

There are these women at my gym who drag bags around. One day soon I’m going to go up someone’s nostrils just because the idiocy of it ticks me off. You’re in the gym, lady: first off, get yourself some real gym clothes and shoes; second, if you carry something around — I do — it should only be the stuff you need to have with you to work out — this is the US so you came here in a car and the car has a trunk. Stop leaving that horse-nosebag-handbag on the floor for me to trip over. Aside from, it makes you look stupid and focused on things other than the reason you are here. Please get your day tripping self out of my sight.

But here we are, with the world and especially America burning down around us, unjust deaths by the quire piling up among our veterans and our poor people, and someone needs to grieve over a person they never knew because handbags.

America will bullshit itself to death. Been happening for years. Just putting up signposts.

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5 thoughts on “Bag It

  1. Omg love! The only thing “good” here is that ppl have quit pretending that the wealthy and famous don’t suffer from mental illness just like the rest of us, but otherwise yeah… handbags, what? Mine’s from Target. Years back a boyfriend bought me a designer purse that was so ugly, but I had to carry it to be polite. Soon as he was dumped, so was that bag.

    • Heh. I know about that kind of gift. In the case of less close relationships, I’ve become an expert in gushing over the grotesque article and then putting it right in the Goodwill box.

  2. So many unhappy people think that having the next big thing (or bag thing, as the case may be) will be the secret to happiness. Advertising deceitfully promotes this misguided belief. The truth is that we each carry our own happiness within us. Aside from clinical depression, happiness as a mindset can be cultivated; like a garden you weed out the advertising and toxic messages (and occasionally the toxic people) that harm your sense of well-being. Poor Kate Spade’s throwing away of a life full of creativity, fame, and fortune should give the misguided souls something to consider about true roots of happiness.

    And as far as bags go, I carry a big one that has everything I might need in an emergency and room for other stuff. It’s nearly a tote, but at least black, and I bought it used for 10 bucks.

    • I’m not even sure that people think a bag is the road to actual happiness, but a lot seem to think it confers status or coolness. Search me.

      And the last person I am judging here is Spade herself. Real, intractable depression thumbs its nose at “happy thoughts,” so I am not sure there is any takeaway here for people who outsource their experience of life to things or social approval. As for advertising, from your lips to G-d’s ears. The more I’m away from television, which I only see in passing at the gym, the more naked the manipulations of people’s sense of self worth become to me. Either the ads are saying “you DESERVE this” or suggesting that anyone who doesn’t have their product will envy you and be counted a dork. I sometimes wonder what the contribution of this kind of thing, the appeal to climbing, nervous narcissism, might be to our social insularity and other-ism, even though it only seems to be selling candy bars or a phone. In my dictatorship…. 🙂

  3. My man ‘has to have one.’ His was stolen out of our car a few weeks back, and he was most upset about losing the bag. It was a name brand but nothing anyone would mourn over re: a Famous Name.

    I have pockets.

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