Friday, September 14, 2018

I've Got My Hands Full Over Here

The cleaning people were coming to our house this morning, so I started collecting items to take with me to the coffee shop where I'm now sitting. On cleaning days, I head to the shop at around 8:00 AM and remain there until around 10:00, when the cleaning is usually completed. About an hour ago, I packed my laptop and all its accessories and then started gathering everything else: walking shoes, socks, my wallet, a pair of regular glasses, a pair of computer glasses, and a pair of sunglasses. It was about then that I realized I needed to grab my flexible nylon duffel bag, the one that I got for free at my last job, for overflow. There was simply no way everything would fit into the laptop bag. Such situations are not unusual.

About twenty or so years ago, the item known as the "man purse" came into vogue. To me, it seemed like a logical thing: a tiny backpack-like invention that could be strapped over your shoulder. I bought one and used it almost every day to go back and forth to work. Mine had compartments for phones, pens, an ID card, as well as a stretchy piece of webbing on the outside that would allow you to pack a water bottle. It was made of black leather and hung comfortably over my shoulder. During the period I carried it, both the Palm Pilot and iPod were invented, and it was great for toting those around. But eventually, the cultural male gender assertion began to take hold, and the "man purse" became a thing which was no longer cool to carry. I shook my head and acquiesced, because when you're a guy, that's what you do.

Let's take a look at the obvious here. Men's pants are made with functional pockets, but for ladies, this is not always the case. Women's jeans, for example, are made with shallow pockets that are marginally functional, unless you're carrying nothing larger than a package of chewing gum. Women often end up carrying their phones in their back jeans pockets, a practice which carries its own risks, especially considering that Apple now thinks nothing of charging over a thousand dollars for an iPhone. But women also have the option of carrying a handbag (it's not a "purse", as they used to tell us when I worked at Macy's). The handbag is a completely practical, useful item. Men are not culturally permitted to carry anything resembling one, because that would not be man-like. And therein lies the problem.

If you can't carry a handbag, where do you put the stuff that you have to carry around with you? Why, in your pockets, of course. That works up to a point, but unless you are wearing cargo pants or shorts, you're going to run out of room in short order, and guess what? Men are often chastised for wearing cargo pants. I beseech you, therefore, what are we males supposed to do?

Well, I can think of only one logical answer. All that stuff you're carrying, guys? Find a way to put it on your smartphone. For credit cards, boarding passes, reward cards, and the like, you can use Wallet on your iPhone or iPad (wait, you don't have room for an iPad). You can take pictures of things that you'd like to be carrying around but don't have room for and store them in your phone's photo album -- that way, you can look at them and think about what you would do with them if you could hold them in your hand. Need a tape measure? There's an app for that. Your keys? Well, you're on your own there, and by the way, key fobs are getting bigger and bigger.

To me, it's just so obvious that guys need another way to carry stuff, one that doesn't come with any gender-based stigma against its use. How many times have you guys, fortunate enough to have a female significant other, had her tell you, "I'll put that in my bag" while you're struggling to find available pocket space? That's crazy, because if you think about it, she already has her own stuff to carry. The difference being that her gender, savvy about such things, sees no issues with carrying a handbag; designers offer bags in a plethora of styles and colors to complement almost any wardrobe. They are practical, everyday fashion accessories. Now, that rocks. The fact that males have no equivalent is just, in a word, dumb.

It's high time that we disposed of the notion of judging that a guy is less "masculine" because he needs to carry some kind of bag. If we don't do something soon, we males will be carrying our entire lives on a smartphone, which of course will make Apple, Samsung, and others even happier than they already are. Let's put our minds to a solution -- we're the same species that once sent people to the moon. But come to think of it, I don't think astronauts even had pockets. I rest my case.