I am a man with additional accessories.
Our recent travels have served to illuminate the issue of all the stuff I seem to have on my person at all times, and as I coiled the cord around the cell-phone charger and nestled it beside the extra lens for the camera, packing the space between them with a cushion of wire for the iPod remote, I knew something was wrong.
Ever get dirty looks from an old lady for staring longingly at her purse? You don't wanna.
But I do pine for a purse... I type these words here to you in an earnest confession of such: deeply do I hanker for a holder of some kind, some satchel or strap apparatus that could miraculously engulf all my crap without making me look like some kind of styrofoam-stuffed cybersherpa.
I don't actually need much. Basic vacation, air travel, beach combing... that's a book, a camera and some sunscreen, max. Well, maybe a magazine in case the book gets boring, and naturally some film (or memory cards) for the camera, but that's it. That's all I need.
I need this: if I had a way to save the pictures from the camera, I wouldn't need the memory cards, and that would help, so I'll bring the laptop too. Well, there you've got the charger for the laptop (since only a doofus would run his battery dead on the first afternoon and just be stuck like that... plus the charger folds up pretty small anyway), but with that and the firewire cable I can also charge the iPod... genius.
But that's all I need. I don't need one more - oh, let me download some podcasts real quick for in-flight listening. Those don't take up any space at all. And this book of matches could come in handy. Plus this dictionary. You can't be too careful.
When it was all said and done and I set my suitcase on the loading tray at check-in, the readout on the scale announced in glowing red numerals the precise sum of my excesses. I cast my eyes downward, unable to look at the diminutive clerk lady as she heaved our bags onto the conveyor, a small but fierce vein throbbing noticeably on her forehead.
Hey, though: the "overweight" surcharge cutoff is at 70 lbs., so I know I'm not the only one with this problem.
Back to the purse thing. The average male in the winter season has about 7-9 pockets on his clothing, give or take, at any given time. You got your pants pockets, which are perfect for car keys but must be loaded carefully to prevent unintended prodding of the manly bits during seating maneuvers, and you got your coat pockets, well-suited to cell phone storage but also prime real estate for chilly hands, and generally unsecured anyway, so said cell phone can easily be jostled out during a spirited jog through the terminal. Then there is your inner coat pocket, a snug home for sunglasses and emergency breath mints.
Back pants pockets are of varying utility. While some men favor them for wallet stowage - generally the right cheek, I've noticed - others like myself find that arrangement to cause undue discomfort during extended driving or sittting, not to mention the curious divots in your car seat that really should be explained to any future owners down the road. You don't want people thinking you have some growth or something, or wondering why the alignment is off and the car always seems to pull toward oncoming traffic because you drove sixty thousand miles with your head tilted to starboard due to uneven wallet loading.
I use my back pockets mainly for stashing grocery lists and notes to myself, and while it is a handy spot and I enjoy the reliably surprising warmth of the paper upon removal, it can be a bit disconcerting to notice a crinkling from that region when you sit down at a meeting. There's no diplomatic way to assure everyone you're not really wearing adult diapers, and that the sound they heard - magnified eight thousand times by the room acoustics, for some reason - was actually just a pink post-it note reminding you to purchase washer fluid and ricotta cheese on your way home.
The other drawback to forgetting what's clinging to your backside is just that: you forget it. Many are the times I've pulled on a pair of recently-laundered jeans and discovered an important message wadded in the hindquarters, indicating that I should either "look into racquetball" or "punabaj quoi nooma," depending on how much fabric softener was used and whether I'm holding the paper right-side-up or not.
So now I'm thinking purses.
On the way to the beach I was given a jaunty canvas bag by Penny's grandmother, emblazoned with the logo of some resort or cosmetic cream, and I enjoyed it a lot. By the time we reached our chosen sitting-spot and I offloaded the various hats, sprays and hardcover books therein, I was quite comfortable claiming the device as my own: "What's that? Need a granola bar? I've got some right here in my purse."
It felt good.
And while there may come a day when advanced age and self-assuredness eventually qualify me for a fannypack, that day is not yet here. For reasons which are as shallow as they are embarrassing, I just can't let myself walk around looking like some kind of dork marsupial, even if it would be a handy and sensible way of storing all my stuff. And though Penny does occasionally carry some amazingly massive purses, and is willing to tote some of my belongings within their capacious cargo holds, I'm really not feeling that either.
I'd feel bad, you know, lobbing that one extra AC adapter into the bag's yawning mouth, spurring the onset of scoliosis or goodness-knows-what by further burdening the elegant frame of my so-far towering wife. I suppose we could get her some sort of a rucksack, or one of those nifty titanium-framed hiking exoskeletons you often see on the Yukon Trail, but I'm not entirely sure if that's her personal style.
Saddlebags for our dog Vince crossed my mind, and I do recall seeing something like that online one time, but, again, if I can avoid it I'd rather not slowly convert my entire family into stumbling, sorry, swaybacked pack mules.
There is the notion of leaving things behind, I guess...
I don't know.
I shall think on it, I think, equipped here in my chair with a dictionary, an iPod, a Mega-Chompers customer loyalty card from a sub shop that used to be across the street from my office three years ago, a chemically-activated handwarming packet, a cell phone, a pair of sunglasses, three elderly sticks of sugarfree gum and my car keys.
With a crinkly butt.
I am a man with additional accessories.