A Coin Purse With a Vagina

I had a dream a few nights ago.

In the dream, my sister and I ran my father’s business, a wholesale warehouse providing old-time variety stores, five-and-dimes, and mom-and-pops from the 1950s through the 1970s with sewing notions, hair supplies, party goods, baby gifts, craft items, imported goods, and so on.  While I did, in fact, work in this business for much of the ‘70s, Dorie did not.

I am on the phone in the dream. Dorie is at the next desk rapidly calculating an invoice on an old-fashioned adding machine. The man on the phone is asking if we carry coin purses and other leather goods. I say we do. “Oh, good,” the caller says. “I have 31 siblings and am looking for stocking stuffers. “

As I say, “Come on down,” he barges in the door yelling, “Where are the coin purses?” I lead him to the import aisle and he picks out three dozen round leather coin purses which, when squeezed, appear to have lips or a mouth.

“They look like vaginas,” he says.

I wake up with a start.

I wonder why I had that dream and then I remember that one of the last things I saw before I went to bed was a coin purse I have had since the 1970s. It is made of denim, not leather, because the obsession with denim was born in the ‘70s. Denim was everywhere. Pants, jackets, vests,purses. Everywhere. There even was a car, the AMC Levi Gremlin, with a denim interior.

The denim coin purse was supposed to look like jeans, complete with a small pocket. And sewn on that pocket was a leather strip to mimic the leather patch that says Lee or Wrangler on some jeans. But because these coin purses were imported from Hong Kong, were cheaply made, and were a cross-cultural hybrid, the leather strip did not have a brand name on it. Instead, this tag had the unexpected, inappropriate phrase “vaginal area” on it.

I became hysterical when I first saw the coin purse as I was filling an order in the mid ‘70s. I still laugh at it when I see it in my casita today.

How, one might ask, could the “V” word end up on a simple coin purse? My theory, as evidenced by other purses in the box, is that the manufacturer had taken a newspaper or magazine ad for a feminine hygiene product and pressed it on a large piece of leather. The leather was then cut into small pieces to be sewn on the pocket of the coin purses. Some of the tiny leather pieces were put on upside-down. Some had other words or phrases from the ad. Some had a hint of ad art. But this particular coin purse had a vagina.

It is no wonder, then, why I have kept it all these years.

Now, if I could only find something from the ‘70s in denim with a penis.

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