The $38,000 Handbag

Thursday, August 22, 2013

We've been reading that Oprah Winfrey was offended by a sales clerk in Switzerland who refused to show a $38,000 handbag to her.

At least that's the story going round.

It seems Ms. Oprah went into the shop, saw the purse, and asked the clerk to show it to her.

The clerk declined, saying it was too expensive and stated she had cheaper models. Apparently, she didn't recognize the famous Ms. Oprah.

The bag in dispute was a Tom Ford Jennifer bag, named after Jennifer Aniston.

Oprah called the incident racist. And the apologetic national tourist office agreed.

When an American newscaster was first reporting the incident on the evening news, he stopped and said, "Thirty eight thousand dollars for a purse?" He thought it should have read $38.

Many of us poor folk thought the same thing.

Not many of us can afford to go shopping and tote home a $38,000 purse.

Many people in this area don't make that much money in a year. Some live in homes that didn't cost that much.

But, then, Ms. Oprah earned $77 million dollars in a year ending in June, according to Forbes magazine, so she could afford the purse. Her net worth is 2.9 billion dollars, I've read.

I remember years ago, maybe 50 years; I bought a genuine leather purse for $9. I was shopping with a girlfriend and she talked me into buying the navy blue purse. I really wanted it but I knew I couldn't afford it, not on my husband's military pay.

We had two small children to raise, too.

But I bought it and kept it for years and years..

My closet wasn't filled with purses. I had maybe two of them at the time.

Probably the most expensive purse I've ever bought cost about $40. I can't bring myself to pay more than that.

But there are also some $4 ones in my closet.

I like to buy them on sale when I can use coupons to offset the cost. The $40 purse was originally priced at $59 but with my store discount and coupons I was able to purchase it for $40.

But a $38,000 purse is ridiculous in my circumstances. I could buy a new Buick for that.

In some upscale boutiques of Singapore, New York or Zurich, purses are priced in the four figures. Many labels create bags in various fabrics, such as calfskin, alligator skin and snakes skin. Precious stones increase the price. Bags can range from $10,000 up to $200,000

Now I could be wrong, but this racist incident has got me to thinking.

Could it be that Ms. Oprah is raising a stink because she stars in a new film coming out about racism. The film, Lee Daniels' The Butler, opened in theatres Friday, August 16.

It occurred to me that the purse incident gives Oprah a promotional tool to promote the movie.

Every time she discusses the racist purse incident that gives her another opportunity to mention the film she is starring in. Doesn't it? The film is the story of Cecil Gaines, a black man who was born the son of a poor sharecropper. He started as a "pantry man" in the White House and worked his way up to a butler in the White House, serving eight presidents from 1952-1986. Forest Whitaker plays the role of Cecil Gaines. Oprah plays the role of his wife, Gloria. This is her first film in almost 16 years.

The PG-13 film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond and how those changes affected this man's life and family.

Now don't get me wrong. I watched the Oprah show for years until she started "teaching" me about politics, religion, homosexuality, marriage and her views on many other subjects.

I didn't agree with her on many topics but she was adamant that she was right.

So I switched the channel.

Last week at the Los Angeles premier of Lee Daniels' The Butler, Oprah said she's sorry that a media frenzy emerged after saying she experienced racism during a trip to Switzerland. She is not retracting what she said about the boutique clerk and the "racist" encounter, however. She stands by her account. She said "no apology is necessary" from the country of Switzerland.

"It was just an incident," she said.

From what I've researched, The Butler, might be a nominee for Best Picture.

It just might follow the success of the 2011 release "The Help."

But don't bet your purse on it.

We'll just have to wait and see.