You know how we inherit different traits from our parents? Well, I did not inherit the accessories gene from my mom. My mother always dressed nicely and applied lipstick before leaving the house. Other mothers would throw on a bathrobe and slippers with their hair still in curlers to drive a child to school or run out to pick up a container of milk. Not my mom. 

My mother had a large clothes closet with shelves and drawers filled with shoes and purses of every size, color, fabric and style.  Her plethora of pocketbooks included shoulder bags, clutches and hand bags for every season and occasion. I only have two pocketbooks – both black. My summer pocketbook features a woven fabric and the winter bag is made out of leather. I have no desire to match every outfit with a different handbag. I just need something sturdy to carry my eyeglass case, cell phone, pens, tissues, note pad, change purse and health insurance cards. 

When I was in seventh grade, my mom decided that it would be fun for us to make a trendy pocketbook for me out of a metal lunch pail (think construction worker). My mom is an artist so she jumped into “our” project full steam ahead. Mom painted the metal lunch pail black and then cut out pictures from magazines topped with a couple of coats of varnish for a decoupage look. I was embarrassed to bring this work of art to junior high. The metal lunch pail clanged against the metal-link shoulder strap with every step I took. I did not feel like a trend setter and made some excuse not to take that lunch pail pocketbook to school ever again.

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Yesterday, a woman in my Norwalk Library writing class asked me for some tips on finding inspiration for writing short stories. I told her that inspiration is all around us. “Just look out of the window,” I said, “people watch, find one thing that you have never noticed before.”

My student got very excited and said, “I saw something unbelievable the other day on the train!” She started scrolling through her cell phone to show me the unbelievable spectacle she observed on a Metro North train. Nan set the scene for me as she continued to scroll through her photos. “I was sitting across the aisle from this young woman who was dressed very elegantly all in beige,” Nan recalled. “When I looked over, I was shocked to see what she had on her lap!”

Nan handed me the cell phone. A young woman in her twenties wearing a beige turtleneck and long beige wool coat sat with a pocketbook shaped like a human head on her lap. The “purse” included a nose jutting out of the side and a brightly colored fabric shoulder strap. It really was pretty creepy.

Nan said that she Googled “human head pocketbook” to find out more about this unique accessory. Once I got home from my writing class, I also did an online search. My search history must look pretty morbid. I was surprised to find dozens of different types of purses and pocketbooks in the shape of human heads and skulls (one skull purse was made out of leather with a zipper across the forehead to keep your belongings safe). An artist in Israel created a line of human head drawstring bags made out of felt. 

Now that we’ve changed the clocks back, it is time for me to transfer my pens, eyeglass case, tissues, note pad and insurance cards from my summer pocketbook to my winter pocketbook. I like to keep things simple.

Kim Kovach is always on the lookout for new column ideas.