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CatMuse33
10-14-2007, 09:18 AM
Hi! I hope this is the place for personal essays as well as memoirs/life stories.

I need help with an opening sentence for a short essay for a women's market. It's about my friend and her bags. Well, it's a story about growing up, but, on the surface, I talk about her collection of bags.

I'm really struggling with the opening, and, so far, I have...


My friend Joanne has more pocketbooks than Chinatown. Big bags, small bags, cute little monogrammed bags, from Coach, Kenneth Cole, Express. She’s even got a big bag to hold the others!

I need to know if anyone outside of NY gets the analogy. Chinatown is known for selling designer and designer knock-off bags. Shopping there is actually quite an experience (worth a story itself!) Anyway.. help? :) Suggestions, comments, critiques?

Thanks!!

P.S. I didn't post this in SYW because I don't need the whole piece critiqued, just my opening line. I hope that's okay.
Dawn

Azraelsbane
10-14-2007, 09:30 AM
I'm from Florida, and I got it. Then again, I've been to NY several times. :) Still, I think it's a nice parallel.

julie thorpe
10-14-2007, 02:31 PM
I have no problem with understanding the analogy ( true, I have lived near Manhattan) but more of a problem to me was the question 'were her bags knock-offs too?' Just saying. . .

JJ Cooper
10-14-2007, 03:05 PM
So I'm from Aus and I don't read womens magazines, but I'll play anyway.

I have no idea what pocketbooks are.

My friend Joanne has more pocketbooks bags than Chinatown (insert most famous department store in USA here) . Big bags, small bags, cute little monogrammed bags, from Coach, Kenneth Cole, Express. She’s even got a big bag to hold the others!

Or (first line only)

My friend Joanne has more bags than the 'lost and found' at JFK.

My friend Joanne has more bags than a Madonna road tour.

My friend Joanne has more bags than Lindsey checking into rehab.

JJ

Mandy-Jane
10-14-2007, 03:37 PM
I agree with JJ. I'm from Aus too and I was lost in that sentence.

CatMuse33
10-14-2007, 05:29 PM
JJ,
You really don't know what a pocketbook is?? I guess what i was looking for was a department store analogy, actually. Or something else with a lot of bags--like your oh-so-creative analogies!! Thanks for the help! (And Thanks everyone else, too... very helpful feedback on all counts.)
Dawn

Newport2Newport
10-14-2007, 06:39 PM
Fun idea!

Most women own a lot of handbags/purses/pocketbooks/bags. What's most interesting, I think, is what she does with them. Switch out the word "has" in your lede for a more active/pointed verb, and you'll bring the piece alive.

Does she display them like art work? Use them 'til they're battered to oblivion? Enquiring minds want to know.

takkunelwood
10-14-2007, 07:37 PM
To me, a "pocketbook" is a large wallet, like this (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v165/takkunelwood/pocketbook1.jpg), this (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v165/takkunelwood/pocketbook2.jpg), and this (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v165/takkunelwood/pocketbook3.jpg). My grandmother always called these her pocketbook, which she kept in her purse. Purse, bag, and handbag might be better.

However, I like the Chinatown part, even though I didn't get it until you explained it in the next sentence (never been to NYC). Its a regionalism that's not too obscure, and if someone wants to know why Chinatown has a lot of handbags, they can look it up or ask someone. I like books that encourages me take my own initiative to learn little things like that.

nerds
10-14-2007, 07:56 PM
Oprah Winfrey actually mentioned this not long ago - she said she felt dated because she's the only one she knows who still says "pocketbook". She asked the audience and they went with "purse" and "bag".

"Pocketbook", at least in the U.S., is a word that has mostly gone out of use except amongst ladies over 60.

Nifty opening lines.

Maybe go with more bags than Chinatown. Since Chinatown's full of actual bags more than purses.

More bags than Joan Rivers. More bags than under my eyes. (Just kidding around.)

Rich
10-14-2007, 08:23 PM
...than Emelda Marcos had shoes?

SherryTex
10-14-2007, 08:57 PM
than Donald Trump has hair pieces or should that be comb overs? Than Michael Jackson's had surgery? Than Brittney's had breakdowns? Than Courney Love's had relapses or should that be Linsay Lohan? Had enough pocket books to wear a separate one to answer each email of the day? Had enough purses to accessorize every person who lunches at Mc Donald's today and make sure they color coordinate? I got the reference, but what is the tone you want? Timeless? Time anchored? Modern? Funny?

Rich
10-14-2007, 09:10 PM
than Donald Trump has hair pieces or should that be comb overs? Than Michael Jackson's had surgery? Than Brittney's had breakdowns? Than Courney Love's had relapses or should that be Linsay Lohan? Had enough pocket books to wear a separate one to answer each email of the day? Had enough purses to accessorize every person who lunches at Mc Donald's today and make sure they color coordinate? I got the reference, but what is the tone you want? Timeless? Time anchored? Modern? Funny?

No, SherryTex. The first four would be a far less count than pocketbooks, and would change the comparison from a physical object to an event. The remaining few would be...well...stupid.

SherryTex
10-14-2007, 09:56 PM
nice.

Rich
10-14-2007, 10:01 PM
I try.

Eyan Carrington
10-14-2007, 10:05 PM
So what is a pocketbook?!

nerds
10-14-2007, 10:16 PM
LOL. It's the thing women always have slung over their shoulder or in their hand, full of whatever it is they keep in there. Designer ones are hugely popular. I just use pockets, myself.

Apparently men are getting into it now. Man-purses, they're called. Oy. Probably will enter the dictionary as murses.

It's also a publishing house. Pocket Books.

Rich
10-14-2007, 10:20 PM
My wife's left should is practically non-existent.

melaniehoo
10-15-2007, 04:37 AM
I like the opening but agree with whoever said to call them bag in the first line. The jump from pocketbook to all the bags in the second line didn't flow for me. Then, it also makes the comparison greater as 'bags' includes all the take-out bags in Chinatown. :) I also like the JFK comparison. Or, is there a department store in NY known for it's beautfiful (and by beautiful I mean HUGE) bag selection?

CatMuse33
10-15-2007, 06:59 PM
Wow, this turned into a fun thread! I want to thank everyone for their help! I call them pocketbooks--got it from my mom. :)
It's funny, I originally had "bags" but the repetition of the word bothered me....

So I've taken the best elements of many suggestions. Here is the first 'graf. (Much more, and I'd have to put this in SYW. LOL) I stole the JFK analogy because it grounds us in the first sentence as NYers. Later, we take a bus trip to Atlantic City, which is a very NY thing to do. (And if people don't know JFK--I'm willing to accept that as one of the things they get to just take from context.)
**
My friend Joanne owns more bags than Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and the lost luggage department at JFK, combined. Purses, handbags, knapsacks, totes. Big bags, small bags, cute little monogrammed bags. Bags from Coach, Kenneth Cole, Express, Target and that little shop on Canal Street in Chinatown. She’s even got a big bag to hold the others!

A few years ago, a mouse pooped in her closet. She threw away all her bags and started from scratch, launching a bag-buying frenzy.

melaniehoo
10-16-2007, 03:18 AM
I like it!

ETA: but I wouldn't have thrown away all the bags.

Ziljon
10-16-2007, 05:46 AM
A few years ago, a mouse pooped in her closet. She threw away all her bags and started from scratch, launching a bag-buying frenzy.

Better opening. And these last two lines are pure gold!

SherryTex
10-16-2007, 09:41 PM
Excellent! Bravo!