b Papa Dog's Blog: The Old Main Bag

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Old Main Bag

From 1982, when I wasn’t going to college, to 1998, when Mama Dog decided that any deficiencies in my appearance reflected poorly on her, I carried my shit around in a backpack. Two packs lasted me those sixteen years. Pack #2 was long past its expiration date by the time we hooked up. When Mama Dog suggested I might try something new and different – as opposed to my customary preference for that which is old and the same – I didn’t balk as much as one might expect. For one thing, I was in that state of equable psychosis that marks the early days of a new relationship, when compromises can still be happily made that will be out of the question once the relationship is stable enough to allow for an occasional guest appearance from one’s surly true self. For another, I really was kind of tired of the whole backpack thing. Both backpacks had developed in their dotage some form of polyvinyl psoriasis, with little flakes of whatever miracle polymer constituted the inner lining insinuating themselves into the essence of anything I happened to be carrying around. I still have books speckled throughout with those little black flakes. It’s not pretty. Mama Dog introduced me to an emporium of a kind which had been thitherto – well, not unknown but somewhat unnoticed by me: the luggage and leather goods store. There, for more money than it would have ever in a million years occurred to me to spend for something to carry my lunch in, I got a brand new Kenneth Cole Reaction briefcase (sorry, no image available for seven-year-old styles). My approval was grudging but genuine. It was roomier than any of my backpacks. It had specially fitted doodad pockets for everything. Best of all, it was designed in such a way that you could conceivably carry a doughnut around all day without squishing it. Not that I planned to do that, but it was comforting to know that if I wanted to, I could. The first time I took the bag to work, I received unexpected compliments. Monty the aging yuppie set his jaw in ill-disguised covetousness and nodded his approval. “Nice bag,” he said.

Well, that was seven years ago and the bag has received as much punishment or perhaps more punishment than any backpack I ever owned. Not long after I got it, the extra weight I tend to lug around in paper (most of the target demographic, I’m assuming, doesn’t read) took its toll. The apparatus holding the strap to the bag failed. I spent a number of weeks putting it back together and having it break again. For a while I replaced the strap with one cadged off Mama Dog’s old army bag. That turned out to be a bad solution. The army bag clip and the bag weren’t designed with one another in mind. The clip tore the sides of the bag. Eventually I got a proper replacement, but damage had already been done, and over the years it’s just gotten worse. Sometime in the last few months, I realised that some of the metal framework inside the bag had started poking out. I could never see anything sticking out, but I’d feel it jabbing my side as I walked.

The last couple of days have featured the type of unbearable horrendous weather commonly referred to as “nice” by an ignorant populace – glaring merciless carcinogenic radiation beating down from above without a single noble cloud for protection or the slightest cool breeze for relief. Accordingly, I’ve been going out without a jacket for the first time in a while. This afternoon, after two days of that, it finally sunk in why I was finding mysterious scrapes and abrasions on my forearms every day. Without a jacket to take the brunt, the bag was scratching the hell out of me.

So, the time has come. This weekend we’ll be going down to Santa Barbara and one of our missions while there will be to get me a new carry-my-shit-around case. Mama Dog, sensing the opportunity to once more foist something new and different on me, has already suggested alternatives. Clearly, whatever I get has to be built to last at least seven years.


Anonymous Chien de Maman Duvalier said...

Excellent story, Papa Dog! Just to clarify, I never served in the U.S. Army; the "army bag" mentioned, above, was actually army SURPLUS -- a staple of my wardrobe from age 10 through 30.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

Be sure and post a pic of your new accessory!

11:33 AM  

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