My mother used to say you could judge a man’s character by his shoes. Scuffed up and poorly maintained shoes were a sign of self-loathing. Highly shinned flashy shoes indicated a lack of self-confidence or over compensation for something. Fast forward to the modern era and that would make men very tough to read. Get on the Skytrain in BKK and you’ll see everything from vintage canvass high-tops to those awful rubber Crocs with the holes in them. You’d have to get a degree in psychology to delineate those signals.
Perhaps the modern day version of shoe-reading is bag-telling. That’s the story this week’s picture tells. When you’re out in public, everyone is carrying some kind of bag to tote all the stuff they need. It used to be only women who carried these accessories, but now it’s everybody.
The idea of a “man bag” isn’t new. This notion has come into vogue in a few decades but never lasted that long. Back in the 1970’s my uncle carried what he called a “hippy bag”. It was made of hemp and slung over his shoulder. He needed it to carry his bong and extra pair of bellbottom jeans. The 80’s and 90’s also had their turns suffering the “man purse” phase, but nothing stuck. Then came the backpack and I-Pad.
Let’s face it, the backpack is just a macho way to carry a purse. Nobody actually needs all the room that comes in a backpack. Next time you are out in public, take notice of men that are schlepping around a backpack. Most of them are only half full at best. This is a person who has too much to carry in their pockets and needs a bag. But, they are convinced that an appropriately sized and stylish bag would somehow diminish their manhood.
I really envy the man who can pull off the “man purse”. You’ve seen them for sure. Usually they are leather and are big enough to fit an I-Pad and a few other items in. They appear to be just the right size, can be carelessly slung over the shoulder or back and don’t make you look like a pack-mule. No zippers, hooks or dangling water bottles. But, just like most stylish shoes I’ve tried to wear, I look absolutely ridiculous carrying a man-bag. Their diminutive size accents the fact that my size is … well … not diminutive.
Last year I tried the backpack option and found that I just ended up carrying more stuff than I need. Those things get heavy after a few trips up and down BTS stairs. In the end I settled for a “teacher bag”. It’s a kind of hybrid between the two. Shoulder slung, big enough for a laptop and made of ballistic nylon so as not to be to girly. It turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy bag as I am now employed as a teacher.
Last week I saw a guy that I’m really jealous of. He was so cool and carefree … he didn’t even need a bag. That’s a real man!