An Unexpected Find Inside A Borrowed Purse


I don't like to borrow things. I have a terrible track record. Invariably, I'll lose it. I'll break it. Or I will forget to return it.

So, I buy this navy blue sparkly mother-of-the-groom dress to wear to my son's wedding in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Not surprisingly, I have no dressy purse to carry that even remotely matches the gown. Too totally stressed time-wise to shop for a handbag, I text Gloria. Not only is she my very best friend for over 40 years, but she has the most incredible taste in clothes, shoes and purses. And the inventory to back it up.

Within minutes, she texts me back six pictures of cocktail-worthy pocketbooks in all shapes and sizes. Each one is a great match for my long, fitted gown. However, one catches my attention immediately. I stare transfixed. I have never seen a purse quite like it. It seems to be made out of a resin-type material. Without so much as a second glance at the rest of the group, I abandon texting and call her immediately.

(I also make a mental note to not-so-tactfully tell my husband I want one of those kinds of purses for my upcoming birthday.)

"Oh my G-d," I scream into the phone after Gloria picks up. "That bag is totally awesome. Are you sure I can borrow it?"

"Of course!!" she shoots back, my excitement contagious. "It really is quite a conversation piece, isn't it?" she adds. "So, calm down -- I've got you covered."

I spend the next few days -- up until the wedding -- sharing the photo of the purse with everyone who crosses my path. "Look at this purse," I start off by saying. "Have you ever seen anything so cool? It's dressy, but I bet you could wear it with jeans. I bet you could even hang it from a decorative hook in your house as a conversation piece. And oh, that funky, divine chain, with all those oversized stones!"

I start getting some odd looks, so I lower the volume and go back to concentrating on my son's upcoming wedding weekend.

A few hours before the rehearsal dinner, Gloria and her husband arrive in New Orleans. She calls me and asks me to come to her hotel room to get the purse. I knock on the door and she lets me in. The purse is encased in a soft cream colored bag. She carefully hands it to me. I pull upon the draw string and slowly lift out the pocketbook. It is as exquisite as the picture.

I hug her hard. And begin to rant once again about how much I appreciate her letting me borrow it.

There is dead silence. My friend's eyes fill with tears.

"Oh no," I think. "Maybe she is regretting her offer? Or maybe I said something wrong?"

"Open it, Iris," she says softly. "There's something inside."

My friend Gloria is both thoughtful and creative, so this is what I expected I would find nestled in the handbag: either a one dollar bill for good luck or a handkerchief with my initial on it to catch my wedding day tears of joy.

I open the purse. No money. No hanky. Only a folded piece of white paper with the following words: "This purse is yours to keep. My gift to you."

If you want more information about Iris's forthcoming book Tales of a Bulimic Baby Boomer, or to sign up for her weekly newsletter, visit or follow her on Twitter @IrisRuthPastor.

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