Years ago I wrote a piece for the local newspaper about the need for man purses. It received some attention. I had e-mails both praising and lambasting the man bag. My column made the rounds on the Internet.
The married women were all for it. The men in the newsroom railed against it, even the ones who arrived to work each day with a laptop bag slung over their shoulder. That was different, they said. Then, in order to verify that their testosterone levels were up to standard, they pointed out that their wallet, keys and other necessities were safely stowed in their pants or jacket pockets.
That, it seems, is the defining factor: Once the wallet, keys and cell phone find their way into a tote bag, masculinity was on the irreversible slide into Sissyville. You may as well step into a pair of peach girly panties and call yourself Nancy.
Not for sexy writer Michael Chabon. I’ve never read anything by him. I’ve read all but one of his wife, Ayelet Waldman’s, books. I may break tradition and pick up his latest work: “Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son.”
Chabon is a Pulitzer-prize winning author. Chabon carries a man purse.
Chabon recently spoke of his book on NPR’s “Fresh Air” hosted by Terry Gross. I happened upon the interview at a pivotal moment. Chabon was telling Gross about how he became a proud man-bag carrier.
I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement. I grabbed my cell phone and speed dialed my husband. He didn’t pick up. His man-purse radar must have been fully engaged.
I’ve advocated for the murse, the man bag, whatever you want to call it, for years. I have one person in mind: my husband.
If anyone needs a man-bag, it’s my spouse, whose pockets are often bulging at the seams with both necessary and extraneous items. These bits and pieces, when emptied from the pockets, end up in small piles throughout the house.
A man bag would take care of all that. I suppose I might balk at the man bag abandoned on the floor or on the dining room table or the staircase. But wouldn’t it be easier to pick up a bag and hang it on a hook rather than juggle wispy receipts, clunky parking meter change, business cards, memory cards, lip balms, car keys and orphaned pen caps?
He even has a built-in excuse. His occupation is one that often requires a bag. He’s always distinguished himself as one of the few in his profession who does not carry a bag unless absolutely necessary. There are pockets and there are assistants.
There is hope for the younger generations. I see many young men sporting messenger bags, small backpacks and other masculine forms of personal property transportation. Today’s young men are more comfortable accessorizing, it would seem, than men of my generation and older.
Maybe they’re just wimpier. Maybe they don’t want misaligned spines and pinched nerves and fat wallet syndrome.
So, I remain the lone voice in my home for a man-bag revolution.
Thank you, Michael Chabon.
May you lead the charge toward male liberation.