My step-father recently flew to New York to spend the holidays with his family. My mother packed his suitcase, as usual, wrapping the fragile gifts he was taking and made sure his carry-on bag had crossword puzzles, a bottle of water and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I asked her how many suitcases he had and she said, "One. And his purse."
"Yeah, you know, his purse."
"His man purse?" I asked.
"No. Nannie's purse."
"Nannie's purse???" Nannie is my late grandmother.
"He's carrying Nannie's purse??? On the plane??"
"Yeah, his purse." Now she's getting annoyed.
"Well, what do you mean, his purse?? Is it a carry-on bag, a man purse or Nannie's actual purse? Is it a woman's purse??"
"I don't know, Salena. It's just a purse."
"Yeah, but a purse that you put over your shoulder or a purse like Daddy's purse?? A man's purse, Mom, or a regular purse??" I'm frustrated that I can't get clarification. My mind is swirling with images of my step-father carrying an old ladies purse as he travels. I'm thinking, handbag? shoulder bag? what color? how many pockets?
At this point, I started laughing. "Do you know how ridiculous we sound? We're talking about an eighty-six year old man carrying a purse. Not only that, but we're talking about whether it was like the purse my father carried or like the one my grandmother carried."
I never did get a straight answer out of my mother, but I do hope the purse he did take, matched his shoes.