So yesterday I went shopping. It’s something I generally don’t make a habit of, because there aren’t an enormous number of things I need to buy. I already have all the stuffed animals I need, and I’m not allowed to get an attack helicopter until I clean out the garage, which I really don’t want to do. However, when I do need to buy something, I am the quintessential man – I know what I want, I go out and buy it, and I leave the store as quickly as it is possible to do so. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only way to shop without slowly going insane.
And yesterday, after faithfully serving me for several years and through innumerable security checkpoints, my toiletry bag finally gave up the ghost. Its poor little zipper would hardly open anymore, and the stitching was coming apart on all sides. After performing a small ceremony (read: taking all my stuff out and throwing it in the trash), I decided to go buy a new one. I had about 40 minutes between appointments yesterday, and so I figured I’d have plenty of time. There was only tiny problem.
Toiletry bags for men apparently don’t exist.
I went to Macy’s, failed, and was told to go to The Boston Store to find a murse. I went there, and failed. I went to Sears and JCPenney and found nothing. During that time I passed roughly 43 million purses, makeup bags, and other sacks that women can put every imaginable thing into. By the time I reached JCPenney I was ready to buy myself an adorable sparkly clutch to shove my toiletries into. What do I care if the security guy looks at me funny? He’s already seen me naked in their millimeter scanner thingy.
Recently I’ve read a lot of articles about women’s place in the workplace. Well ladies, let me talk for a moment about a man’s place in the world of bag-finding.
What it feels like to be a woman looking for a new bag:
11:30am – decide to go shopping for a new bag
11:55am – get partially exhausted by the overwhelming number of options online
11:56am – opt for a relaxing lunch out to soothe your overstimulated senses
12:15pm – see a cute bag in the store next to the restaurant and decide to go in there after lunch
12:57pm – begin the process of touching 413 different purses, satchels, handbags, clutches, pocketbooks, and totes in 13 different stores, all of which have a wealth of options
1:43pm – finally settle on one of your 4 trillion choices
2:01pm – arrive home and experience a slight amount of buyer’s remorse
2:02pm – decide not to return the bag you just bought
2:03pm – get online to look for accessories to complement the new bag you just bought
In fact, I don’t think I went to a single department of a single store that didn’t have bag options for women. In my entire life, I have never – not once, not ever – met a girl who did not like purses. You would think, with fully 50% of the world’s population obsessed with buying things to put other things into, that someone somewhere would have thought, “I wonder if men want these things, too?”
Things We Decided to Invent Before Inventing Toiletry Bags for Men
– Hypoallergenic dogs
– New species of fruit
– Leisurely space travel
– Particle accelerators
– Augmented reality glasses that display things like heart rate, metabolism, relevant facts, and body temperature analysis of whoever’s dumb enough to stand in front of you
– Computers smart enough to win Jeopardy
– Sarin gas
– Gene-specific targeted drug therapies
– Indoor grass patches so your hypoallergenic dogs can poop without the indignity of having to go outside
– Giant pieces of metal you can shove into your earholes
– Every other thing you can possibly think of
So now, as the honorary spokesperson for all men out there, let me tell you what it’s like to try to find a bag to put stuff into.
What it feels like to be a man looking for a new bag:
11:30am – decide to go shopping for a new bag, plan to finish by noon.
11:40am – arrive at first store
11:42am – leave first store after being directed to second store where clerk at first store is “100% certain” you’ll find what you need
11:50am – arrive at second store, get directed to the luggage department where someone might have once seen something that could possibly function as a bag that men would use
11:55am – start to get angry that you’re in the luggage department when you don’t want to buy luggage
11:58am – get even angrier when you realize that you’re going to be late and that the luggage department doesn’t have the stupid bag you need
12:00pm – call whoever you’re meeting, tell them you’re going to be 15 minutes late, apologize
12:05pm – go to a store that sells literally everything, certain that there’s no way you won’t find something there
12:06-12:20pm – walk through every section of the store, including sections that don’t carry what you want (bait & tackle, automotive, lingerie) because maybe you’ll get lucky and find what you know is hiding there somewhere
12:21pm – postpone your noon meeting for a second time, apologize again, start cursing quietly at everything you see
12:25pm – find a store clerk to help you, follow them as they walk through all the sections YOU JUST WALKED THROUGH with the vague belief that maybe their eyeballs are smarter than yours
12:27pm – make a small child cry with the look in your eyes, apologize to the mother
12:30pm – watch the clerk stare at the same things you stared at 10 minutes ago
12:31pm – listen with disbelief as the clerk tells you that they don’t carry bags for men and that you should probably go back to the first store you went to
12:32pm – suffer an aneurysm
At one point in my completely futile search, I was told that the only times stores carry toiletry bags for men is on Father’s Day or maybe Christmas. So not only are manbags essentially mythical, but they’re only designed to be given as gifts, since apparently no self-respecting man would ever want to buy one for himself. Which also means all those unmarried guys I sit on planes with must be stuffing their toiletries into their socks.
All I want is a bag, people. That’s all I need, a stupid manbag that doesn’t attach to my hip. To all the bagmakers out there, I am giving you a billion dollar idea. We men are sick and tired of shoving our toiletries into Ziploc bags. We demand equality. We will pay for equality. You know what you need to do. Seriously, JCPenney could pull itself out of its death spiral just by offering manbags.
Question: What’s one product that either doesn’t exist or is hard to find that you think people should make?
Leave it to a woman to find what you desire online in less than three minutes.
Jen- Thanks for finding that! At the time I needed one so I could travel the next day. I eventually found one at Walgreens in the “Oh crap I need a gift, like, NOW!” section.
Mike- No, we don’t have a container store in Madison. I didn’t think to check REI!
Did you try REI or the Container Store in your expedition to bag a bag?
The men who founded this country wouldn’t have whined about not having a bag; they would have made one in the time it took you to write your post. In fact, I remember a scout leader telling the story of the time Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln teamed up to track and kill a polar bear just to make slippers out of its feet. Now go out there, stun a pigeon, hollow it out and use it to carry around your Schick.
Ah Jon – you crazy nut you. Thomas Jefferson didn’t do anything for himself – he sent Lewis and Clark off to scout the rest of America, and I’m pretty sure he made them make a bag for him. And Abe Lincoln thought shaving was sinful, which is why he didn’t have a toiletry bag. Seriously, man, read some history sometime! 🙂
However, HUGE fan of the pigeon-stunning idea. Will get on that right away.
I think I would have been good friends with William Clark; he has a strong, manly name. Meriwether Lewis though!? C’mon, I would have had to call him “Mary” until he punched me in the face.