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Man bags and bad men
Readers weigh in on recent columns

Regarding so-called man bags, you and Whadyamacallit should just get a grip (4/25/08). Please recall that men have carried purses far longer than women have. In Chaucer's day, the bag that men wore on their belts and kept their cash in was commonly called a purse. That's why the fellow who handled the money for a school, disbursing funds as needed, was called the bursar. The increased popularity of purses for men is simply another example of everything old becoming new again.

Geoffrey: Gee, what's next, codpieces?

Since I'm the one who coined the term "man bag" several years ago, when my new glasses - along with my wallet, PDA, lip balm, laser pointer, sunglasses, keys, iPod and earplugs - necessitated some sort of carrying bag, I took special notice when the Oxford English Dictionary officially added it to their lexicon last year. While the term "bag," as you suggested, does work, it's less specific than "man bag." Having used the more descriptive term for several years now, I find it works just fine without putting my precious manhood in jeopardy.
Bag Man

Bag Man: I'm sorry, but I still dream of the day when "man bag" is redundant.

From someone who's been there, I'd like to pass on a few thoughts to the woman who wrote in wondering if she should date the cheapskate she works with (5/2/08). He may not be a total miser, but I would nonetheless caution her to beware of dating someone with the tightwad tendencies she describes.
My story: A while back I was dating someone who, while a wonderful person in many ways, turned out to be stingy. The euphemism he used for it was "careful with money," but over time it became clear that he wasn't just a penny pincher. In fact, his emotional stinginess was a big part of the reason I eventually ended the relationship.
This guy was a number of years older than me - well-educated, a professional with a stable income from a good job - whereas I'm a grad student. I'm also a vegetarian and a non-drinker, so I'm a pretty cheap date. I also have a pretty egalitarian outlook on who pays for dates. I don't expect the guy to pay for everything. I want to kick in what I can afford. I'll gladly buy coffee after dinner, popcorn at the movies, etc.
This guy, however, went out of his way to plan dates based on where he could use a coupon from his Bucky book. And a couple of times I felt like he manipulated me into paying for things that were more than I could afford, all in the name of "balancing" how much he had spent. It was a false economy: He saved a few dollars, but it cost him my respect.
The real kicker, though, was that he was stingy with affection. The experience taught me to beware of tightwads, because they often (not always, but often) lack generosity of spirit as well. Tell Miss Moneypenny to tread carefully.
You'll Pay for This

You'll Pay for This: No matter how much he saves, a guy like that never gets his money's worth.

That was good advice you gave to Laid-Back Dude, who was taunted and called a faggot by a pool player in a bar (5/9/08). Now let me explain the pool player's hostility. He was sexually attracted to Laid-Back Dude, hence called him a faggot to try to coerce him into accepting his homosexual advances. And poking Laid-Back Dude by his pool cue? That was clearly a substitute for touching him with his penis. Pity the poor pool player, who doesn't even realize he's in the closet.
Corner Pocket

Corner Pocket: Interesting theory, there, Corner Pocket. I'd love to be there when you run it by the pool player.

If your idea of a cheap date is the free-sample baskets at Whole Foods, write to: MR. RIGHT, ISTHMUS, 101 KING ST., MADISON, WI 53703. OR CALL 251-1206, EXT. 152. OR EMAIL MRRIGHT@ISTHMUS.COM.

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