How did a life-long Francophile end up forsaking la belle France for la dolce vita in middle-of-nowhere Italy?
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
A TALE OF TWO PURSES: OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW?
Is "out with the
old and in with the new" my new mantra? But what if I can put the old purse
INSIDE the new one?
Here's how this
dilemma arose. When my husband's sister came to visit, of course she wanted to
check out the local stores. Like their cousin who, during her visit, had talked
me into buying a new purse last year, Nan is another great shopper. Didn't I
already tell you that that family has the shopping gene?
Well, last year's new
bag was the first to have been bought well before its predecessor (a perfectly
serviceable LLBean number I had found hanging on hook in my home, clearly
discarded by some wasteful member of my family), had disintegrated. It usually
takes a purse's fatal flaw for me to decide to move on, and even then, it
rarely moves COMPLETELY on and out--just up to the bursting attic where such
As beautiful as last
year's new combo purse/mini backpack (henceforth referred to as Beautiful Bag 1) was, it's a few notches too small. I kept
trying to overlook this, thinking that it might be good for me to muster some
discipline as part of my plan to learn to travel lighter. In fact,
however, despite getting lots of compliments, that purse has been a
source of frustration. My sunglasses have a big case that was never going to
fit into that compact bag. Ditto for the sometimes necessary extra
I could mention at
this point that I never seem to mind watching others purchase a pocketbook. So
how did I go from encouraging my stylish sister-in-law to examine a
"hip," burlap number for her daughter, to walking out of the store
with a new bag for myself?
I don't really know
how it happened, but this new purse (henceforth referred to as Beautiful Bag 2) seems to have it all. First we made friends
with the charming couple who owns the shop in Bolsena. Chiara and Walter are
expecting their first child (their doctor even passed by and waved while
puffing on his cigarette). They were eager to tell us about their great
experiences in America where they had been guests of a Texan they had
befriended in Bolsena.
conversation, they suggested I take the bag outside, where its irresistibly
intense blue color could be seen to better advantage. As it turned out, it was
also on sale at a very good price, and Nan made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
She was so sure it would be a good purchase that she decided to buy it for
Further, the trauma of
having to reorganize everything was forestalled by the fact that the old purse
could fit neatly into the new. I have really appreciated that feature.
There is a coda to
this story. Beautiful Bag #1 showed a defect this year: the lining tore very
prematurely, and I had to decide what to do about it. How would an Italian
While showing my
visiting daughter-in-law around this shop, I decided to see what it would be
like to proffer a mild complaint in Italian. I showed the salesgirl my
"piccolo problema" and she said they would be glad to send the bag
back to Florence for a repair that might take ten days. In making that offer,
she may have been thinking I was a tourist who would have declined her offer.
But I LIVE here, so time was no obstacle. She might also have thought I'd be
reluctant to empty my bag on the spot, but no. Little did she realize that she
was dealing with a nut case who had arrived with bag #1 stuffed into newer bag
#2. Thus it was an easy matter to make the transfer, and during the
next ten days, I don't think I'm going to miss #1 a bit.
Could there be
something more at stake here? A moral to the story?
Maybe "out with
the old and in with the new" could be applied to my outmoded ways of
for my older "new" bag to return, I'm going to think more about
NEW CODA TO THE TALE OF BEAUTIFUL BAGS 1 AND 2:
Ten days for a
repair? Well, a month went by with no news of wounded Beautiful Bag 1. So when new
guests came and I showed them around the great store full of leather
temptations, I asked about how the repair of my bag was going. A quick
consultation between the nice saleswoman and the owner yielded an apologetic
"It's on its way, Signora, and it will be here tomorrow." With Beautiful Bag 2 on my arm, I was in no hurry--just glad that they still had me on their
I never believed the "ready tomorrow" story, and it took me another few weeks
to get back there (I of course apologized for my delay). But to my amazement, when
I showed up for the third time, they produced the repaired and polished Beautiful Bag 1.
So what did I learn
from my first Italian attempt to see if the customer is always right? Well, if
you go about your complaining nicely, you label your gripe as a "piccolo
problema," and you are not in a hurry to get results, you, too, can end up
with two purses that are in working order.
But really, who
needs two fancy purses?
I'm thinking that
the now-pristine Beautiful Bag 1 deserves a rest after all that she's been through, and
until further notice, I'm going to let her hang out on a decorative hook as an