by Fred Morrow
It’s the mental checklist you run through before locking the door and adventuring into the night: iphone, earbuds, chapstick, pack of Gauloises, monogrammed butane lighter, keys, cash money, driver’s license, card credit, library card, and passport (what happening dandy isn’t always ready for international travel?). Yet it’s too much. Unless you travel with a pack mule—and pack mules will be the number one accessory of Spring/Summer ’13, trust me—there’s no place to put all that stuff.
These are the days of skinny jeans and sleek silhouettes, the days of pocketless cardigans and slim-fitting jorts. Nobody’s got room to carry all their necessary accessories. And now, thanks to technology, a hipster-ish nicotine habit, and an addiction to chapstick, we have more personal cargo than ever before.
It’s time to deal with this problem once and for all.
Your initial inclination might be to try out the old NEED vs. WANT organizer: Think of what you really NEED to take out for a night versus what you only WANT. Except everything in that mental checklist is a NEED. Without chapstick your lips won’t be moist and lush, ready to smoosh against strangers’. And even if you’re not going to mack with rand-o’s on this particular evening, having chapped lips means having a mini-mummy on your face, with your lips as the mummy’s wrappings, all moldy and grody, which is totally not hot. So obviously being without chapstick is unthinkable. While being without cash money means you won’t be you able to tip the go-go boys. And without a cellphone how will you function?
Of course, one way to carry so many accoutrements is by wearing cargo shorts, an egregious faux pas that will understandably lead to your gay card being revoked. I mean, cargo shorts … What are you straight? Is this 1998? God, you might as well be listening to Limp Bizkit, watching The X-Files, and living in a time of non-dream-crushing economic prosperity.
Yet without cargo shorts and due to the costliness of maintaining a pack mule, and since nothing can be done about the tightness of our denim and since it’s unimaginable that a happening dude would lessen his load by leaving his apartment without his passport or iphone, we have to think up another way to haul all our personal cargo around.
- Backpacks are too high-schooler-ish.
- Fannypacks are self-evidently atrocious.
- Shoulder-strap messenger bags are awkward to maneuver around the dance floor.
- Briefcases make you look like a narc or some other square working for The Man.
- Tote bags lack je ne sais quoi.
- So what are we to do?
It’s time to take a nod from bridesmaids and trendy male Eurotrash:
We need to start carrying clutches.
* * * *
When I tell friends about the man clutch I’ve commissioned I get different responses. Bull dykey Rosy thought I was talking about manual transmissions, while good, old Rich figured I was referencing outdated slang. “Like something is clutch, as an adjective?” he asked.
“No, no,” I told them, then described this sexy, chic personal cargo container.
For those not in-the-know a clutch is a small, usually rectangular bag that’s good for carrying all your necessaries. It has slots for your cash and cards, a clip for your keys, and possibly a compartment for coins. Clutches are cute and they’re our savior. Man clutches are going to save us from the misery of accoutrement overload.
So last week I emailed a friend-of-a-friend who makes bags as a hobby and told her I was in the market for a man clutch.
We discussed sizes, fabrics, zipper color, price, and the internal pocket situation. I opted for an unwashed blue denim exterior with winter white sailcloth interior to go for a fun nautical theme that vibes with my New England summer.
Now once I describe this man clutch to my friends I usually get the same response:
“You’re buying a murse?” Rich and Rosy asked.
Murse, meaning man-purse, is a word that entered the vernacular thanks to that one Seinfeld episode. A murse is not what I mean at all.
For one thing, murses are cumbersome and culturally dead, while man clutches are awesomely avant-garde.
For another thing, murses have shoulder straps.
“How will you carry it?” Rich and Rosy asked about the man clutch.
“Loop it around your wrist so you don’t lose it, obvi!” I said.
Man clutches, instead, have wristlets.
I realize the word “wristlet” might be too much for some macho readers. Yet, remembering Baudelaire, who said that we must plunge into the depths of the Unknown to find the New, it’s time we men came to accept things like wristlets as part of our expanding fashion vocabulary. We should embrace wristlets, kilts, and other weird garments, even if they seem a bit de trop. New fashion, like new art, requires fury and courage, a recklessness of vision that doesn’t give a flip if wristlets are a tinge too much or if it’s okay to wear black gingham to a funeral. We shouldn’t limit ourselves by color or cut. These are days of ironic glasses, Tom’s, Topsiders, and contrived facial hair after all. Those things are lame. We need tres outré-ness that sets the world afire. Flame on, I always says.
Man clutches are the torches we shall carry with pride.
Some friends are skeptical. They’re all, “Will this be like those other purchases, the madras short shorts you bought and never wore or the Band of Outsiders double-breasted blazer you ended reselling on eBay?” Will this man clutch just be another ridiculous piece in the long list of ridiculous fashion pieces I own for show?
“No,” I boldly declare. “Man clutches are what’s up.”
I remind my friends about the practicalities. We have too much personal cargo and cargo shorts suck. Pack mules are expensive. Tote bags are by-and-large hideous. The man clutch is our rescuer. Like a cute superhero with a blue denim exterior and white winter sailcloth interior, my man clutch will save me.
What I don’t say is what I’m telling you now, that we must fill Baudelaire’s demand to dive into the New, with all the risks that entails. Man clutches shall lead us into the future with sexyness and savoir faire. Keep those clutches tightly looped around your wrists and leap in. The future of fashion awaits.
* * * *
My man clutch arrived in the mail two weeks ago and I’ve been rocking it around the scene. Sometimes I let it dangle from my wrist a la the wristlet. Mostly I keep it clenched in my hand like a beloved pet. When my cellphone, which is zipped inside, vibrates, it’s like the heartbeat of this adorable animal, my blue denim clutchie clutch.
It’s super cute!
Plus very comforting and stylish.
Mostly the man clutch has been greeted with ooo’sand ahaha’s!“So that’s it, huh?” Rich and Rosy said. “Not bad.”
“Could it fit a kindle?” Alicia asked.
“You paid money for that?” Jesse pondered aloud.
Granted, the man clutch needs a little time to get worn-in. Time will add texture and character. Overall, it’s an excellent piece, mixing blue denim ruggedness with a sassy wristlet and convenient interior pockets. The zipper has a smooth slide and the key clip is superb.
Coming in at 4.5 by 9 by 2 inches, the one negative about the man clutch is that there’s no room for a book, unless it’s a mass market paperback and no good books ever get turned into mass market paperbacks.
Aside from that delinquent feature, the man clutch is magic.
Of course, I get asked, “Is that really you?” As though I don’t embody the frontier of fashion, as though the man clutch doesn’t represent me. So does it go with my slick skinny ties and menagerie of button-downs? you might ask. To that I strike a pose, one arm akimbo, the other arm slack, the man clutch dangling from my wrist. Oh it goes.
Sure, haters hate. One friend rejects the term “man clutch” and simply refers to it as “your blue thing.” Another friend said I probably shouldn’t bring it on a job interview.
But I’m not to be dissuaded by these haters, philistines, and fascist-ionistas. I flaunt my man clutch with recklessness. Check out this wristlet, you dweeb robots. Then I swung the clutch and smack a stranger in the face.
The man clutch saves me from so many problems. No more pocket bugle. No more wondering where my chapstick went. And of course, most astoundingly, no more cellphone distraction.
In the past, since my pants are beyond tight and it’s uncomfortable to have a cellphone digging in my ass, whenever I sat down, in my pre-clutch days, I’d take my cellphone out of my pocket and set it on the table. My date would do the same. Basically, we’d treat our cellphones as real people, as crying babies really, who shared our table and constantly demanded our attention. We became one of those couples who, instead of talking to each other in a normal, socially functional sort of way, just ordered entrees then texted and stayed in ignore mode, paying more attention to our cellphones than each other, our digital relationships thus usurping the tangible one in front of us—which really is proof we’re living in technodystopian times, if you ask me. And my blue denim clutchie clutch lets me avoid this fate.
The man clutch lets me keep my cellphone zipped away, out of sight and off my mind. Those texts can wait. Let’s enjoy what we have here in front of us.
One day, once we’re all cyborgs, we won’t need to carry anything because it will be built into us at birth. But until we can get SIM cards implanted in our brains, credit cards implanted in our faces, and have all our apartment and car doors operate vis-a-vis retinal scanners, we need something to carry our stuff in. And the man clutch is where it’s at.
Now the man clutch is one of those things, like love, friendship, and the verses of drug-addicted French poets, that I can’t imagine losing. It holds my whole life.
“Dude,” Jesse asked one night when we were out at some slubby pizza joint. “Isn’t it like a little weird to have that thing with you at all times?”
“It’s grand,” I said, petting the unwashed denim exterior.
“What about your pack mule. Aren’t you getting a pack mule for Spring/Summer ’13?” Jesse asked.
Who needs a pack mule when you’ve got a man clutch?
Fred Morrow lives, writes, and does stand-up in Boston. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.