Iif there is a personalized hell where anyone who was remarkably bad had to go to spend eternity, then mine would be a shopping mall. I have nightmares imagining being forced to wander through Macy’s, TJ Max, and Marshall’s for the rest of eternity.

Now if I was real bad I would be forced to spend the rest of time in a Wal-Mart. Needless to say I am not a great fan of shopping but my wife is. Therefore, every now and then, in order to keep peace with my family, I join. We trek through the labyrinths of malls looking for something that I can never figure out what she is looking for.

The highlight of my shopping day is looking to see where the merchandize comes from. I always do this when my wife is exploring the forest of hung merchandize. To my dismay I find very little made in this country. Most is produced in China. I get a bit of a tragic kick out of lifting up a box holding an American Flag and finding out it was made in Taiwan.

The other day, a summer sunny day I might add, I was following my wife through an area of the store where women’s handbags were sold. There were more handbags being displayed than I thought existed. In fact, there was an entire room put aside in the store for handbags. My wife told me later that there were entire stores just selling handbags. I was awed! There were some hanging on the wall, there were some in large display tables, and there were some in locked glass display counters. I assume these must have been the most expensive ones.

My assumption was correct. One of the things I noticed about the handbags in the glass counter was they all looked alike. The designs on the handbags were exactly the same even though the size and style of the handbags were different. I found out later the designs on the handbags were the most important thing about them because these odd symbols represented who designed the bag. Now I am not saying who made the bag because most of them are made in some Asian nation who somehow got the designer to allow them to use his or her name.

I also found out that the bags on the table in the middle of this part of the store were the cheapest ones. They looked the same to me and they did have specific signatures displayed on the bag but I guess these signatures are just not as famous as the ones behind the glass. My wife asked to see one of the expensive ones and she let me look and touch it.

I then went to the table and did the same to the cheaper bags. They felt the same to me and not to my surprise they were both made in the same country. There are handbags that are intermediate in price. In other words, they are not cheap but they also don’t need a second mortgage to buy. These are hanging on the walls. They look like the bags behind the glass and on the table but there is supposed to be something special about these bags.

There were a few women around these bags and there conversation was interesting. An older woman with gray hair and immaculately dressed told a younger one who wore a t-shirt and jeans how she was appalled by the price of the bags. The younger woman immediately agreed. But I noticed when she was talking to the older woman she pushed her handbag toward her back so the other woman couldn’t see it. My wife told me later the bag was a Louis Verdun and it was worth well over $800.00. I bought my first car for under $800.00!

I didn’t know this before but I guess what a woman wears on her arm designates her position in a kind of American caste system. I also found out later there were many counterfeit handbags that show the label but are made in, yeah you guessed it, China. I assume the ultimate embarrassment would be to have someone discover that you are wearing a fake which would immediately drop you out of the social order. Walking around the store I looked for an area that sold wallets. If handbags took over a major part of the store I assumed the area that sold wallets would be the same.

Once again I was wrong. In the far corner of the men’s department was a small open counter that had small boxes holding different types of wallets. I really couldn’t call them different types because they all looked the same to me. What I did see was there were no emblems on any of the wallets. There were different priced wallets but it had nothing to do with who designed the thing. A customer was looking at the wallets and for some odd reason, probably boredom; I walked over and asked what kind of wallet he liked. I guess my mother failed to tell me about what not to talk to with a stranger. He just gave me an ‘I’m not that kind of guy look’ put the wallet down and walked away.

Curiosity again brewed in my brain. I took my wallet out and looked to see if I could find who made it. It was black and had been homed in my many pockets for the last ten years of my life. I am guessing on its age because I can’t remember when I bought a new one. I noticed it was a bit worn, not because I carried too much money but probably because I gained weight thus putting more pressure on my back pockets and all that was stored in them.

At that moment my wife found me and asked if I was looking for a new wallet. I told her no because I was very used to the one I had plus I dared not talk to the attendant who just witnessed the conversation I had with his lost customer. But, before I put it back in my pocket I noticed a small tag deep inside.

Picking at it I smiled because all that was left to read was: “Made in USA”.

The End.
Genetic Traits of wallets and handbags.
By J. G. Fabiano.
Jim Fabiano is a teacher and writer living in York, Maine, USA
e-mail him at: james.fabiano60@gmail.com

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