The revelation hit at gate C31 in the Tampa International Airport.
For what must have been the 10th time that day, I was frantically feeling my jacket, patting my rear end and looking desperately at the ground, each time happily discovering what I thought I had lost, in the place I was sure it couldn’t be.
Finally, reluctantly, and somewhat painfully, I reached an unavoidable conclusion:
I need a purse.
Laugh all you want at my appalling lack of masculinity. But let the first male among you who has not once even entertained the thought “If only I had some sort of small container or bag so I always had a place to carry my stuff” cast the first chuckle.
I’m not looking to make a fashion statement – beyond the usual “Someone please help me look like I know how to dress myself.” It’s much less interesting than that: I want to be less disorganized.
Every weekday morning starts with a mental checklist of the expanding roster of items I can’t do without: wallet; keys; phone; charger; sunglasses; reading glasses; seeing-for-distance glasses (my vision is complicated); glass-cleaning rag; notebooks; comb (although, sadly, not for much longer); favorite pen; ID badge which always manages to find its way out of my wallet; loose change.
This doesn’t even account for the seasonal items like gloves in the winter or sunscreen in the summer or for the days when I just know I’m going to wish I had brought a healthy supply of extra-strength pain reliever.
This is why I am forever asking myself if I have forgotten something.
I used to be able to carry all my stuff around in my pants, like a ’70s sitcom kid who is asked to empty his pockets and comes up with everything from a Swiss army knife and a baseball to a bunch of jacks and a frog. No more. The iPhone alone is a tough fit and like a lot of guys my age, I know that if I sit on my wallet for too long, Ol’ Mr. Lower Back Pain might be making a visit.
I have briefly considered the two most obvious options, which are fanny packs and briefcases. I immediately discounted the former because 1) I don’t need to draw any more attention to my midsection and 2) I adamantly oppose wearing anything with the word “fanny” in its title.
The briefcase has become my de-facto go-to solution but it too presents multiple problems. First off, it’s so deep and has so many different compartments that when I toss stuff in there, it takes too long to find what I need. And while it can be a passable solution when I am going to work, it doesn’t do me any good the rest of the time. I’m not going to walk around Wegmans or into a Sabres game with my briefcase.
This has become such a problem that I had no choice but to Google “purses for men,” which led to a Huffington Post article from 2013 entitled “Guys, Here Are 5 Bags That Don’t Look Like Purses.”
“While women have a zillion fabulous handbags to choose from, modern men face the unique challenge of finding something to carry all their stuff in ... that doesn’t look like a purse,” the article said.
The article listed five options, all of which I dismissed: the briefcase (see above); the messenger bag (for people who need a briefcase but don’t want to call it a briefcase); the tote (looks too much like a diaper bag); the duffle (fancy word for gym bag, but I don’t need something that large); the backpack (also too big and besides, I’ve already been to college).
Give the designers credit; they have recognized a need for this item and clearly are working to find something.
The fashionistos of New York and Paris and other cool places already have christened the male purse the “murse” and lots of cool people have been photographed carrying one around and looking cool. Most guys seem to go for the messenger bag, which is supposed to appear rugged and not very pursey-looking, but still seems too large.
I need something smaller, something just big enough to carry the few things I need every day. For lack of a better word, I need a handbag.
My wife is always saying she needs to go shopping for a purse. Won’t she be delighted when I say, “Me too!”