For a single woman on the make, a purse doubles as an overnight kit: Her Fendi baguette will easily hold condoms, lube, toothbrush, spare undies, lipstick, business cards, gum, cellphone, and, if she was once a Girl Scout, a penis ring (“Be prepared!”). And, of course, if she’s out with a group of ladies, they will end up dancing around that handbag because there are no men to keep an eye on all the Kate Spades, and because groups of women always dance in a circle.
But for a woman with a purse on one arm and a dude on the other, suddenly a handbag is not just a handbag. It can become a litmus test for a straight man’s sexual security factor: When she asks him to hold her pastel pink pocketbook while she either pees, dances to “It’s Raining Men” with the girls, or holds back her friend’s hair while she pukes, does he adamantly refuse, does he hold it at arm’s length like it’s a soiled diaper, or does he slip it over his shoulder with an affable grin? There is a direct correlation between his comfort level with holding a handbag and how supportive he is of marriage rights for gays, how his mama raised him, and how amenable he’ll be to a little backdoor “reach around” with a pinkie (or more).
Of course, if you ask an unrepentant ladies man, he’ll tell you that a handbag is actually a devious way for a woman to mark her territory. He may even get relationship panic if she asks him to hold her bag while she pees, convinced she’s doing it only to ward off any competitors in her absence. Which means that the purse doubles as a handy litmus test for commitment-phobes, too! However, ladies, we wouldn’t attempt this maneuver on the first date: There is a season and a time for everything in relationships, and some things — like farting, meeting the parents, Japanese rope bondage, and treating your date like a hat-stand — are best saved for later.
For more tips on deciphering the dating scene, check out our book Rec Sex: An A-Z Guide to Hooking Up.