What? This? A purse? No, silly, it’s not a purse. It’s a . . . a messenger bag. A shoulder bag. A “European carryall.” I’m a man. Please don’t call it a purse.
There’s a fine but important line between man-purse humor and man-purse denial. Man-purse humor is . . . well, funny. Man-purse denial is just sad.
Darcy Hudgens of the Tom Bihn company was kind enough to alert us to a curious article from Sunday’s Jackson (Michigan) Citizen Patriot. It’s a feature about man purses that very quickly denies that the bags it describes are indeed man purses. Perhaps because he is nervous that he might otherwise insult the people he has interviewed, writer Justin Schneider awkwardly attempts to preclude any snickers among his readers by pouring testosterone on the topic:
Today’s men have stuff — a lot of stuff. Cell phone, laptop, notebooks, gym clothes, keys, gloves, glasses. The challenge facing men is how to carry it all without resorting to a backpack or, worse yet, a purse.
Fortunately, the baggage world has responded by creating rugged yet stylish bags with a decidedly masculine edge. [emphasis added]
Ah, those manly men and their man bags! The article is titled (gruntingly) “Carrying bags for men are rugged — and have room for all their stuff.” But Schneider digs a hole with his lead paragraph and can’t ever climb out:
You can ask Michael Gough of Jackson where he found the stylish brown shoulder bag he carries around town.
Just don’t call it a purse.
And so he can’t. (Maybe because he actually did call Gough’s bag a purse and Gough wasn’t too happy about it) Schneider has to complete the rest of the article without ever acknowledging the purse-like nature of the bags. Snooze!
We thought the intrinsic humor of vehement protests by man-purse carriers had been well established in our culture. But even Jerry Seinfeld — his J. Peterman carryall snatched away by a thief — has to admit to a policeman that he did, in fact, carry a purse.
Let’s face it: there’s always going to be something ambiguous about men’s handbags. The Satchel Pages were founded with the grand mission of milking that fact. If there is no humor — only offense — at the pointing out that yes, mister, you are toting a purse, well then, what is the point of us writing here? And what is the point of you reading us? We are here to guide and entertain, not to enrage.
Pssst! That bag you’re carrying? It’s a man purse.
- “Carrying bags for men are rugged — and have room for all their stuff” [MLive.com]
- “The Reverse Peephole” [Seinfeld Scripts]