One day last fall, my ex and I were standing in line at the LCBO and I let him pull out his wallet to pay for all the booze in arms, but instead he pulled out a hempy velcro excuse for a wallet.
"Andrew," I gasped, "what is the story behind that thing?"
He shrugged. "No story. Why do you ask?"
"Because a grown man in his 30s who still carries a velcro wallet had better either have a very good excuse or a very deep shame."
So then Christmas rolled around and I bought him a manly wallet, a leather trifold that I wouldn't be embarrassed to have foot my bar tabs. I felt quite smug about my bettering of poor Andrew until I made it down to the family home for Christmas myself, and ended up unwrapping a new wallet of my own.
My sister's reasoning was that I was the only one in the family who didn't have a proper wallet, by which she meant, a ridiculously expensive one. Which is true. I had my cards and cash stuffed into an oversized coin purse with skulls and crossbones on it. And I know you're thinking that's about as lame as a hemp velcro wallet, but actually, it wasn't lame, it was me expressing my individuality and my unwillingness to submit to the arbitrary requirements of adulthood. Or something like that.
But my sister insisted that I too should belong to the "nice wallet club", which I interpreted as "The rest of the family and I have decided we won't be seen with you in public until you convert to carrying something more reasonable." So for the past few months I've been walking around with a wallet that's too good for me, tucked away inside a purse worth a fraction of its cost and I've felt a great deal of unrest. I knew the moment I unwrapped it that this gift would end up costing me a fortune. Not only would I have to sign up for at least a dozen more credit cards in order to actually fill up all the empty slots, I'd also have to invest in a hand bag that would be worthy of my wallet.
Luckily, I had a savings account that used to be called "Jamie's retirement fund" but which quickly got renamed "Jamie's purse fund." Boxing week sales were still on, so I enlisted the help of my family to find me a purse that would make them proud. It was immediately clear that my "taste", as I erroneously called it, was actually an alarming lack of (good) taste according to everyone else. The first purse I pointed at, a zebra print bag that I honestly loved, was vetoed unanimously and it was decided that I would no longer be part of the selection process as my schizophrenic shopping was just slowing them down.
I never did get a purse and I've continued to use the ones I already owned and loved. One is constantly complimented for its bold purpleness, and another was recently given the Big Purse Award by my colleague. But last weekend, I found a bag that seemed to fit the right criteria: it was absurdly expensive, shiny, and had enough metallic junk on it to let others know that I had just spent about 3 months rent on it. But there was problem: I assumed that since I liked it, it must be wrong. Especially since it was orange. But my mother reassured me that it was in fact a "nice purse" and that it would make the others mad with jealousy. So I dug about 6 credit cards out of my wallet and between them, I bought the damn thing.
And then my mother asked what I would wear it with, and I answered that I thought it would be cool paired with my purple coat.
She cringed, visibly.
My family seems to think I am colour-retarded. They each have a brown purse, and a black one. I have a red one, and a pink one, and a purple one, and now an orange one (clementine, actually), oh, and a tiny clutch that's a very rude shade of yellow. Neutral my ass.
My approach to colour is: if I've seen them together in a box of crayons, it's kosher. I'm not colour-challenged, I'm colour-ballsy. People just can't appreciate me. I mean, it's not like I said I'd wear the clementine with my fuschia coat (no, my coats tend not to be in neutrals either, but I don't wear my red purse with my red coat, or my purple purse with my purple coat. I've never been matchy-matchy.)
I bravely bought a cashmere sweater in the most awesome shade of acid green, and people's first impression is always "Hey, that colour looks great on you!" Of course, half an hour later they're usually like "Whoa, that sweater's still pretty green, eh?" which I take to mean that they are insane with envy. My hair and my toenails tend not to be colours found in nature, either. I gravitate toward anything that can be seen from space. I don't think I clash, exactly, but let's just say that in a sea of people playing it safe, I'm my own little rainbow.
A rainbow with a very cool purse.