After years of resisting, I finally broke down and bought a bag to carry all my stuff around in. It's not like I'm John Wayne or anything, but I never felt comfortable with a purse-like object hanging from my shoulder. I also didn't have that much use for a large storage container, since my job doesn't require me to carry any papers around or anything. But I got tired of trying to cram everything into my pockets, and I refuse to wear a fanny pack, so it was time to do something.
My wife took me shopping, and I was surprised at how many options there are, everything from the distinctly masculine to the vaguely feminine. I chose something midway between the two, and I would describe it to you, except that would bring up all the is-that-a-new-purse associations I'm trying to keep tamped down. Let's just say it meets all my needs in a strictly business kind of way.
Unfortunately, that didn't keep my twin 10-year-old daughters from ribbing me something fierce. That's fine, I just threatened to ground them for a month and they shut up. But it got me wondering what I should call this thing. My wife suggested "man-purse," which I guess is in general circulation. That's what she said, anyway. But I'd prefer something a little more, uh, manly. Do you have any recommendations? Surely you've had to deal with this before.
Whadyamacallit: What do you mean surely I've had to deal with this before? Are you implying that I'm the type to sling a purse over my shoulder and traipse outside to greet the day? Well, you're...absolutely right! I've been carrying a purse ever since...well, since I decided that wearing a backpack was even more ridiculous at my age. I could have gone with a briefcase, I suppose, but briefcases went out with James Bond. And pockets were no longer doing the trick. (Have you ever tried to cram a laptop into your back pocket, especially when there's already an iPod crammed in there?) And where does that leave your wallet, your keys, your copy of this week's Isthmus?
In my case, it leaves them in what I'll just go ahead and call my European handbag. I'm not sure it's European, but it has that look - leather, stripped down, with a thin strap that could have come from some woman's bra. But what can I say, the thing perfectly fits my needs. It's just large enough to hold magazines without having to fold them over, and there are these cute little side pockets that...whoops, I'm doing that thing you didn't want to do, talk purses. And I will admit that I sometimes feel a little self-conscious carrying it around, like when a guy in the locker room at the gym asked if he could borrow some lipstick. "It's not a purse. It's European," I would have said, but Jerry Seinfeld already took that line.
So, why don't we just call them "Europeans"? Because "Europeans" is practically a synonym for gay, that's why. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) No, we need something with a little testosterone behind it, which is why "man-purse" and "murse" - both used by manufacturers and retailers, believe it or not - are out. How about "satchel"? No, too old-fashioned. Attaché case? Too foreign service. Tote bag? Too NPR. Wait, I've got it! You're not going to believe how perfect it is. It's short and not sweet, and it even has a not-so-faint whiff of testosterone. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? Okay, here it is (drum roll, please): bag. That's right, just bag, as in "Hey, honey, have you seen my bag?" Something tells me she has.