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The Man-Bag Movement

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Not that I need validation or anything, but that’s Terry Crews with his man-bag. Mine looks more rugged than his, but I wouldn’t say that to his face.

I admit it – I have joined the Man-Bag Movement.

I’m a disorganized person.  It’s a fact.  I have a horrible short-term memory, so the best way for me to find something is for me to leave things exactly where they last were, so I can use CSI skills to find them.  Nothing drives me crazier than not being able to find something because somebody moved them.

Growing up, I often clashed with my parents, particularly my father on this point.  It would get to the point that he would eventually swoop in and clean my room – which wouldn’t last long, because I would wreck the place again looking for the one particular adapter he put in some drawer.  The only one I could trust to put things in a place where I would put them was my brother, mostly because he and I shared a room for a long time before I got my own room, so he was well-practiced in the art of Respecting Older Brother’s Things.  While I pursued my Bachelor’s I couldn’t take the mind-clutter of keeping things neat (an apparent term of my continued “tenancy” at my parents’ place) and just paid him to clean my stuff every weekend.

Then I got married.  When I showed my wife how my workspace functioned and the best way to keep it together for me, she was horrified.  The first time I lost my wallet, she was not happy.  The 90th time I lost my phone, she nearly snapped.

“What you need,” she said, more or less, minus the strong language, “is a purse.”

At the same time, I was going through a clothing transition.  As a professional, I wanted to project a certain image with my look.  I had always taken my clothing for granted as a kid, mostly due to my schools always having a uniform policy.  In college, I noticed that clothing definitely made a difference.  I wanted to make the permanent switch to my “adult professional” look.

This wasn’t a problem.  In fact, as a big guy, my pockets were huge.  I was a professional beast on weekdays.  On weekends, however, my pockets bulged, pulling my pants down and even damaging the cloth.  It should be noted that the weekend is also the only time my wife really sees me.  Going out would take about a 30 minute head start for me to gather my bearings, let alone the possessions I would need.

A backpack would work, but my shoulders are much too broad to actually wear one.

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So I bought a man-bag.  I thought it would be the same as having a cinch sack in which to dump stuff.  Not even close!  It’s not about the container, it’s about the structure.  Grabbing my bag is like putting pants on with pockets already loaded for the situation.  The main pocket has the wallet inside, the outside pocket fits the phone.  The portable battery has its own compartment so it’s not in the way of the reach for the wallet.

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It feels nothing like a backpack.  The bag rests behind me until I swing it to my side to grab my phone like Indiana Jones reaching for his bag of sand – nothing like the hassle of fishing a wallet from a backpack.  When it’s time to go, I’m ready in seconds, waiting for my wife to be ready – as God intended.

(This kind of reminded me of high school too, because I used to wear my school-supplied laptop on my body.) I feel like if half the people who scoff at the use of a man-bag used one for three weeks, they would never go back.  First week to see the practicality, second week to use it on-the-go, third week to start exploring the other lesser-used parts of the bag.

If you want to look at the one I got, it’s here.

This is the obligatory paragraph where I admit my wife was right – and that not only was she right, but she was right while I was wrong – an important distinction.  It is apparently important that despite the win-win situation of me being more organized, I also acknowledge that on some scale there is an aspect of this situation in which she is the winner and I am the loser, and I acknowledge it here.

Oh shut up, guys, haters wind up single and alone.

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Quote from New York Times Opinion this morning

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

Lifestyle of the Big & Tall

“It’s hard to get around in a six-foot town when you’re ten feet tall, everything’s so small; I keep on bumping my head, I’m way too long for the bed – it’s hard to get around in a six-foot town.” – Big & Rich

I’ve been a pretty big guy my entire life.

No, wait, that’s a complete lie.

I’ve been a pretty big guy since about junior year of high school.  I grew a foot between sophomore and junior year.  (As in, I got a foot taller, not that I grew an extra appendage.)  The change was so drastic that I actually had to re-figure out my body coordination, and I was pretty clumsy while that happened.  (My voice also dropped down several octaves at the same time, so I also had to relearn every song the choir sang.)  One of the major adjustments was in the clothes I had to wear.

At the time, my school uniform was composed of polo shirts and khaki pants.  Polo shirts were easy enough to find; the school sold them, and a generic XXL fit me like a poncho fits everyone – better on big people but the small ones make do.  It was in looking for pants, however, that I first ran into difficulty.

Apparently, pants manufacturers are convinced that all tall people are skinny, and all big people are short.  What about us giants?  I’m at like entry-level giant status; there’s a world of 7 foot people and bodybuilders with massive torsos that need clothes too! Are we doomed to wear gym shorts until we get interviews and have giant tailored suits that make us look like professional wrestlers running for office?

My shoes are 15W.  That’s W for “Wide.”  As in, a regular 15 will not fit me – and neither will a 16, 17, or 18.  As if it wasn’t rare enough to find a size 15 (Ross ends their shoe section with the graceful “Size 13 and up”), I had to have another qualifier in my life, that “Wide” part that makes me look shorter than six feet because I have the feet of a hobbit.

Well almost.  Mine aren’t gross and hairy.

Why do they not make gloves for people like me?  They’d still fit small people.  From my pinky to my thumb spread out is about 26cm.  My hands remind me of that scene from Frankenstein with the accidental strangling of the little girl.

Apparently, men like me are supposed to walk around in sweats and massive Hawaiian shirts until we befriend a tailor – which sounds like a side-quest from The Witcher series.

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… and of course, the deal becomes more of a factor when it comes to clothes shopping.  Think of it this way; when you get a free shirt, you get x amount of fabric.  When I get a free shirt, it can double as a tent or blanket if I need it to.

With the burden of finding these clothes firmly set upon her shoulders, my brave wife took me to JCPenney’s last Saturday, where we found our treasure; blue polo shirts (brand was The Foundry if you’re curious) on clearance.  8.99 each.  With her coupon, the discount went even further.  We exited the store feeling like we had just robbed the place.

So the next time you see someone tall wearing some strange colors, remember that not all of us have options.