A man-purse. Right there in the supermarket, the guy was carrying a man-purse.
He excused himself to move my cart, so he could reach the rice cakes. Rice cakes! Man-purse! Rice cakes! I wanted to shake him by the shoulders and say “What did they DO to you, man? Dude – a man-purse? Do you think this is 1970? Do you think this is the Renaissance Faire? This is the cereal aisle. Have some self-respect.”
I should talk. In my twenties, I was called “effeminate” by a stranger in a restaurant. True story. I was halfway through my enchilada when a man in another booth leaned over and informed me that I was effeminate. (He had been drinking). He based his opinion, apparently, on the fact that I was eating a meal in public with my mother, and also the fastidious flourish with which I brandished my fork.
Luckily, I was possessed of a powerful cool in my twenties, and simply turned to my refried beans. Had this happened today, with my temper rendered less steady by a decade raising children, he might have worn my effeminate fork home.
But it’s true, I have always been a little precious with my cutlery. Plus, I don’t watch sports. I don’t eat steak. I don’t drink beer. I like to listen to classic literature while I drive to work (Mr. Darcy and Ms. Bennett are parrying for each other’s affections this week on disc six). So I am kind of an authority on effeminacy.
Man-purse dude was not gay, though. No gay man would have worn a suede man-purse with those shoes.
But I can’t imagine what he had to carry that was so cumbersome he needed a man-purse. A tub of fine-wrinkle reducing cream, maybe? A hardcover copy of “Confessions of a Shopaholic”? See, there I go again, mocking the masculinity-challenged, when I am not exactly Stanley Kowalski myself.
At least I did not call rice cake boy “effeminate” to his face, even though, clearly forkless, he was no danger to me. A guy on a rice cake diet throws one punch, maybe two, and he’s done. But he got me thinking about the very different ways we men define manliness.
Handshakes are a big deal to some. Some guys will crush your mitt to make sure you know just how manly they are. This smacks of insecurity to me, though. I always want to frisk them for rice cakes.
But then a guy who hands you the limp fish is not even trying. The middle ground is best, I think, a firm but modest handshake which says “I’m a man, and I could kill you with the paper umbrella from the frilly drink you undoubtedly order when you are out with the little woman, but I don’t have to prove it with this squeeze.”
You could argue that Mr. Man-Purse was so secure in his masculinity he didn’t care what other people thought. Fair enough. But go with me here — unless you work for the Pony Express, lose the satchel! God gave you four pockets for a reason: keys, wallet, phone, mascara. (Ha ha, look at the manly way I kid this guy! I like him more every minute.)
Look, men have crossed over into many formerly-feminine domains already. Earrings. Hair coloring. Watching “Grey’s Anatomy” with the sound on. Fine. But come on, not handbags!
Whooo, this whole discussion has made me feel a little weak in the knees. I think as soon as my pedicure finishes drying I’m going to grill me up some sirloin.