A Dedicated Follower of Fashion

I have a new book bag. It took one month to get and another week to keep. I thought about sending it back, but in the end I decided to keep it. I’m fickle that way. Actually, I am fickle in a lot of ways, the two biggest being what to wear and how much facial hair to have. I don’t think I’m alone here, although I might be more obsessive than most.

Once, to my children’s horror, I shaved one side of my goatee and left the other intact before driving them to school. Then there was the time I changed eight times before leaving my apartment in the first outfit I had tried on. I arrived fifteen minutes late to my own class. I didn’t even have time to change from the black shoes I wore to class into the black shoes I wear in class. In fact, I barely had time to check my fly. I worry about standing in front of students with my fly open.

So, I had a canvas messenger bag that I used for carrying my wallet, keys, cell phone, charger, university ID, Metrocard, eyeglasses, books, pens, highlighters, markers, erasers, flashlight, matches, paper clips, rubber bands, mail, scribbled notes, journal, cap, umbrella, loose change, holy water, napkins, corkscrew, miniature Swiss Army knife, and an occasional apple. Sometimes the apple was a banana. On rare occasion I stuffed cold pizza or chicken inside. Trial and error taught me not to pack eggplant parmigiana unless it was hermetically sealed in Tupperware. Now that I think of it, I would have made a small fortune on Let’s Make A Deal.

Author (1985)

As you can imagine, over time the canvas bag wore out and had to be replaced. I ordered a new one, twenty dollars more expensive, with two-day delivery from UPS. The tricky part was that I was leaving on a trip on the third day. I like to cut it close. Makes life exciting. In this case, life was very exciting, because the bag arrived after I left and was returned. When I got home I tried to have the retailer deliver it again, but they said I had to repurchase it. They credited my account for the money but deducted the delivery fee.

“So, let me see if I have this right. You didn’t deliver it when you said you would, took it back, and then charged me for shipping?”

Author (2015)

I am not a shopper. It scares me more than an open fly. The number of options, discounts, sales, installment plans, promotions, and coupons paralyzes me. Still, this was a matter of justice. I went to another retailer and ordered a designer leather bag for one third the original price with free shipping (above). I felt proud of myself until I realized I would be out of town again when they delivered it. That required another hour researching an alternative delivery date and site, which turned out to be the grocery store down the street. If you are wondering why I didn’t have the landlord hold it for me, let me explain that my landlord is a well meaning but mercurial Spaniard, the possible subject of a future blog.

I went to the grocery store, claimed my bag, and–if truth be known–was immediately underwhelmed. It wasn’t the bag’s fault. It was me. Secretly, I still longed for the canvas bag from the first retailer. When I snuck to their site in the middle of the night, I saw that they had reduced its price by sixty percent! Was this a sign from God? Of course, to take advantage of the discount I had to order the bag in camel, which may be a fine color for a couch but not a men’s messenger bag.

I have given up my affair with the canvas bag. I am now enthralled by the leather one, which goes to show that satisfaction, perhaps even happiness, depends on familiarity. And familiarity is a function of time. The more time you spend with a person, idea, or thing (e.g., leather bag), the more it grows on you until you can’t imagine life without it. Well, I can’t imagine life without this leather bag. What can I say? I am a dedicator follower of fashion.

Feature photo by Terje Sollie from Pexels. Like fiction? Check out the Mercury “trilogy” (The Gringo, Laura Fedora) here. Also, go to Robert Brancatelli. The Brancatelli Blog is a member of The Free Media Alliance, which promotes “alternatives to software, culture, and hardware monopolies.” 


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