The European Carry-All

February 25, 2010

I really want to. My life would be much easier. No more lower back pain, no more dropping shit in the parking lot, no more lost car keys or scratched sunglasses. But somehow, I just can’t bring myself to do it, even though I know it’s silly not to.

I’m talking about the man-bag, the shoulder bag, messenger bag, courier bag, or European Carry-All. Whatever you want to call it, it’s still a purse. And real men don’t carry purses, right?

Back in the day when real men rode horses to work every day, life was easy. A cowboy could stuff his spare bullets and bottle of whiskey and a few hunks of beef jerky into his saddlebags, and when he got back to the ranch at the end of the day, or was tired and wanted to stop at the the saloon for a drink, he could just sling that saddlebag right over his shoulder and carry all his stuff with him. Before that, a medieval knight had it even easier, and was assigned a young boy called a page to run around after him and carry his shit. And soldiers have been carrying rucksacks around for centuries.

So what happened?

At some point, men decided to institute this silly tradition named the wallet, whereby we stuff our cash, pictures of the wife and kids and the family dog, a driver’s license, five credit cards, insurance cards, membership cards for the bookstore and the gym, and forty-seven receipts and scraps of paper into the bi-fold hunk of leather your kid gave you for Christmas three years ago, fold the fucker in half and stuff it into your back pocket where it causes extreme discomfort for ten to twelve hours each day. Never mind your car keys (right front pocket), cell phone (left front pocket) and sunglasses (top of the head).

And then one day it came to me: after thirty years of watching my wife carry all her stuff around in a nice leather bag, I found a solution to my dilemma. 

Every morning I shove my cell phone, iPod, sometimes a digital camera, car keys, sunglasses, cheater glasses, a pen and a small notebook, a paperback book, an apple, two oranges, a granola bar and a pack of gum all into a plastic grocery bag. Nothing metrosexual about a plastic bag, that’s for sure. The checkout girl at Basha’s might give me a funny look when I ask for an extra ten or twenty bags during the weekly grocery run, but I explain my actions by telling her it’s for cat poop.

And even though plastic bags might be responsible for killing sea turtles, birds, and seals, and may take up to one-thousand years to decompose, thereby wrecking the ozone layer in the process, nobody is going to make fun of me for carrying a man bag. No way.

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