As I age, my memory becomes a bit more selective. I tend to remember my better moments, triumphs and the other good things in life while forgetting the monumental screw ups and social failures that have kept me up at night. Honest folks know what I am talking about and likely can relate to this self imposed amnesia. I can recall, with some clarity, attending grade school and junior high, dutifully toting books and papers back and forth in a carefully arranged order, without benefit of the colorful backpacks of today. If the need arose, a belt carefully pulled tight around this stack of school books was all that was necessary to keep your “stuff” together on the bus or sidewalks, as the case may be. Circumstances and social convention resulted in delaying my exposure to the advantages of a backpack, that nifty concept that permits you to have what you need, when you need it. Women have long understood this concept, carrying purses ranging from cute little “clutches” to enormous monstrosities capable of carrying a smart car across town.
I am guessing the Europeans are responsible for pioneering the concept of a man bag or “murse”, as my grand-daughter often refers to my backpack. For years, it has been quite stylish for men abroad to carry a shoulder bag of sorts, referred to as a “European” in fashion circles. Not so for Americans. When you are in your twenties and thirties, a wallet or money clip is all that is necessary to get you through your day. I suspect the “cargo pant” craze has its genesis in the need for men to put additional stuff in their pockets. As you begin the downhill slide to seventy, your pockets are not going to get the job done, leading to a shedding of custom and the acquisition of something large enough to pack your “stuff” into. Enter the backpack for men. What stuff, you ask? Let’s have a look.
First, the backpack itself. I began with a pretty basic, canvas bag made by Fossil, designed to have a masculine look about it, in a basic brown, lightweight canvas. It was functional but not particularly sturdy, showing premature wear on the corners and bottom as a result of my rather utilitarian approach to carrying it. It tended to reveal it’s contents by imprinting whatever might be inside, not desirable if the contents included something in the .40 – .45 range. I tried an “European” bag, made of leather, but found my cargo pants could handle my “stuff” more efficiently. This bag now goes into my motorcycle hard cases when I am riding, providing just enough room for a wallet, cellphone and perhaps something in the .380 range. Perfect! I have now graduated into the very nice Frye that you see in the photograph. This backpack provides the room and organization to efficiently carry the stuff that old men invariably need when they are out and about.
When you inventory the contents of my backpack, as was done recently by TSA agents at the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, you will find only necessary “stuff”, to include, but not limited to my wallet, checkbook, I-Pad, a charging cord, two or three pens, a notepad, credit card case, sunglasses, a pocket knife, a canvass bag containing eyeglass cleaner, toothpicks, nail clippers, and an extra inhaler to keep me breathing when I encounter tobacco smoke. Another small leather bag contains antacids, Advil, and packages of my favorite artificial sweetener, because I gag at the sight of the pink stuff in many of the eateries I frequent. I am a proponent of conceal carry by properly trained folks, and the backpack is convenient for this preference when your attire does not permit a pistol to be thoroughly concealed. The Rambo look does not impress me. My backpack will also contain a small wooden prescription med box to house the med that requires mid day ingestion, and a magazine for those times I am cooling my heels while Sharon is shopping or I am waiting on an oil change or similar activity. Finally, when shopping, the backpack is a handy place to stuff the sale coupons that stores like Cabellas and Ace hardware inundate your mailbox with.
I generally carry the backpack on one shoulder, unless I have temporarily added something that is hefty, in which case I will double shoulder carry to distribute the weight. I have learned that many businesses, presumably as a result of thievery, will not permit me to carry the backpack into their business. This is annoying, particularly when the woman with the smart car carrying bag can breeze right in without challenge. Discrimination if ever it exists!
The practicality of carrying a backpack is catching on, with the proliferation of various conveyances such as messenger bags and computer cases. Who would have thought it 25 years ago…..men carrying a bag of sorts.
I love my backpack!