Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag

October 21, 2009, by Prudence Baird

menwithpurses

After 15 years of marriage, and too many misplaced items to count, Prudence Baird insists her husband consider a new approach.

When I say I married a loser, I don’t mean that kind of loser. I’m talking about the kind of loser who loses things. Like keys, hats, sunglasses, cell phones, parking lot tickets, wedding rings—and most of all, wallets.

Like the clueless wife who finds that her husband has a gambling problem only after the repo man takes away the family Volvo, I found out that (let’s call him “Tim”) was a misplacer (nicer word, huh?) after we married. The first time it happened, I had no idea that this was merely Point A in an ever-lengthening trajectory that would arc across the time grid of our marriage.

I was in my home office churning out press releases when I heard the front door slam and heavy, frantic steps on the staircase. I emerged to see a man I didn’t recognize—a red-faced man, his salt-and-pepper askew; a man who hollered in my face: “My wallet is gone!”

Amidst the frantic turning-over of couch cushions and papers flying off of horizontal surfaces, I managed to discern that Tim was looking for his wallet in our house—even though he had left the missing item on the roof of his car a full half-hour’s commute from our home.

“Uh, why are you looking for it here?” I asked logically.

Tim’s eyes were now pinwheels spinning in opposite directions and his hair was sending out sparks. “Because!” he foamed.

Okay.

And thus began a routine that is now as familiar to us as the three-quarters-time box step was to Fred and Ginger.

I order the new MasterCard and cancel the old one. I arrange for replacement health insurance and car insurance cards. He makes an appointment for a new driver’s license, orders a new ATM card, and cancels any checks. Like the one for $1,750 that was in his wallet last June in New York City and he was carrying—in his hands—his wallet, his keys, his cell phone, his sunglasses and the Saturday New York Times.

Somewhere between the ATM, where he withdrew $200 and put it in his wallet, and the hotel (a mere three blocks away), the wallet managed to disappear from this assortment of hand-held items.

So after we added “cancel both Merrill Lynch accounts” to our usual to-do list because he couldn’t remember which account the check was drawn on, I gave Tim an ultimatum. And this time I meant it.

The time had come for a man bag.

We had tried the fanny pack and failed. (“Embarrassing,” he had said).

And we had tried the black leather zippy thing that was thicker than a notebook but wasn’t quite a brief case because “writers don’t carry briefcases.” This last item was purchased after the incident where Tim spent the last ten minutes of an important meeting groping for his missing car keys under the couch of a puzzled executive who might have otherwise hired him. But he lost that black leather zippy thing almost instantly. (“Too thin,” he rationalized.)

I’m not sure if Tim agreed to the man bag because not long after the New York episode we saw a Sean Connery look-alike with one, or if he was simply sick of losing things. But, I’m happy to report that he now has the man bag, and more importantly he is trying to use it.

I only say “trying” because yesterday, I saw in our driveway a familiar black square lying just outside the car door where you might expect something to fall if the bag it was in happens to be unzipped and then perhaps turns upside down. This often happens when you impatiently yank your man bag hard because its straps have entangled themselves with the gearshift and you already have your hands full with your sunglasses, keys and The New York Times.

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10 Responses to “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”

  1. Julie Says:

    Joseph and Tim have this in common! Thanks for the morning laugh!

  2. Rosemary Says:

    Ha! No pun intended but I almost “lost it” reading this!

  3. Cathy Says:

    I never understood why men prefer the butt bulge (wallet) and front pocket stabber (keys) over the man purse. It’s not like they’re holding a clutch (oh yeah, I did see a picture of Terrence Howard doing that). I know my ex always wanted to be “free”(boxers over briefs for example) but the shoulder/messenger bag idea is really the way to go. Pru, you are so funny and you have the patience of a saint. Good luck with “let’s call him Tim” and his midlife transitions.

  4. Conz Says:

    Pru–I swear we are married to brothers from different mothers. Oh, the stories I could tell about shame and panic. Our friend Joe, carries a man-bag that he vehemently calls his “herren-tashe” (sorry Germans, if I spelled that wrong). I think it makes him feel less womanly, though my asking to borrow his lipstick probably doesn’t help.

    I often remind my absent-minded professor, that my ovaries did not come installed with a homing device, and what’s up with the refrigerator blindness?

    Too, too funny and so, so sad. Thanks for the laugh.

  5. Proinsias Says:

    You are such a good writer, Pru. Glad you are not my Boswell, documenting my unclever goofs with such cleverness. Kimberly-Clark would love you for driving readers to wear Depends.

  6. tim Says:

    i can only quote the late great thespian curly joe howard who when similarly insulted would exclaim, “hey, i resemble that remark!”

    my man-bag itself (i call it a man-purse, by the way, i’m not ashamed) is going to get lost some day, with everything in it. it’s inevitable. then what do i use? maybe i just don’t leave the house after that.

  7. julie markovitz Says:

    So funny to be reading this now… I just came home from Whole Foods Market with lunch for myself, hungry teen boys and their friends to discover that my “woman bag” felt way too light… omg… wallet is missing… called WF right away and thankfully lovely Christine spotted it in the shopping cart I used.
    I’m a bit like “Tim”, always carrying around so much stuff…water bottle, book, purse, and often my yoga mat. I’d better cut this short and be on my way back to WF to retrieve my turquiose blue wallet! Hopefully it still has the credit cards and money :0

  8. Carine Says:

    My husband is so good at losing things–may I add to your list: the dog, at least a hundred leashes, MY keys, the telephone, and if we’d had any, the kids–that I wrote a book about it. It’s called Sex, Cheese and French Fries–Women are Perfect, Men are from France. He thinks it’s hilarious!

  9. Carine Says:

    I recently got him a bag, and it’s working (to some degree)! Now if only I had gotten it in something other than yellow canvas, it might not look so grungy…

  10. Nancy Says:

    I’ve determined that some of the most charming, intelligent, kind and good men are losers of things. My son has lost so many jackets and bicycles I can’t count, training for eventually losing his car after a night of partying. I don’t believe he ever found it but I don’t want to know. My husband regularly loses almost everything so I had a great laugh at Pru’s story. Just tonight he couldn’t find the almond extract for the cherry pie he was making, and I pulled it right out of the cupboard he was searching frantically in. Once again, Pru makes my day.

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