“Everything had its own little home, neat and tidy. The white linen handkerchief on the inside pocket. The little mints… A single key on a fob.”
-Nancy Sinatra on the contents of Frank Sinatra’s pockets
Coming from a modern culture of hoarders, gorgers, and over-indulgers, it was understandable that many people would take to the prompt as a call to remind us of the joys and inner-peace that come from minimalism and simplicity. Others feel the weight and burden of the word carry and reflect on the gravity of its effect on the body and mind. ‘Carry’ feels like a responsibility or an obligation. It is a duty, a chore, something we must bear.
But ‘carry’ can be positive, resourceful, or even romantic. What we carry characterizes our persona and hints at who we are, who we were, and who we strive to be. If you’re outside, stop for a moment and touch your pockets. Rummage through your bag. Take a look at the things you carry and ponder why and what and how and who. There is a story, no matter how big or small, in everything that we choose to bring with us.
Trade and craft men are rarely ever caught without their tools nearby. They live and breathe through their instruments. You do not question how much you rely on the implicit understanding that a repairman comes to you with his own tools nearby or that a chef inherently carries his or her own knives. Physical or metaphorical, what we carry makes up the better part of our stories. Writers carry words, messages, stories, that we wear on our faces and our hearts, hoping for the right opportunity not to alleviate ourselves of the burden but to share with effervescence our ability to elevate the human experience with poetry and prose.
What I carry everyday is a part of who I am and who I want to be for others.
This is my EDC (every-day carry). The accoutrements to my very special and unique identity.
First, we have my metal card carrier. Inside are my personal calling cards with my name, number, and email address. I carry this with me for personal interactions. You never know when you might run into someone who could become a valuable friend, ally, or professional contact. It is important to be ready at a moment’s notice to leave a lasting (read: physical) impression. I designed the cards myself and had them printed online on thick cardstock and now I use them when meeting new people, RSVPing to events, or to write short messages to friends in birthday gifts or for the holidays.
A deck of cards. This would come to no surprise for anyone who knew me personally. Even in high school, I was known to always have a deck of cards in my backpack, always ready for a good game. I actually met one of my friends in high school this way. He surprised me when he came up to me and saw me practicing my one handed deck cuts and shuffles and asked if I knew how to play Pusoy Dos, a popular card game in the Philippines. He grew up in a predominantly Filipino neighborhood and learned from his neighbors. We became fast friends and rivals. I carry a very specific brand of cards, from Theory11. They make a certain kind of high-quality smooth-backed cards perfect for card sharps and magicians. Yes, I also know how to do card tricks. No, I don’t think I’m that much cooler than you. Yes, I have tried it to impress women. In fact, there is a great memory when I was in Boston with friends at a bierhaus. We were playing cards and drinking and as we were getting ready to leave, the group next to us asked if I would mind leaving the cards with them so they could play as well. There was a particularly cute girl in their group, so I told them they could have my deck under two conditions. 1) I would try to do a magic trick, and if I could whichever card the girl picked 2) I would keep that one card and she would write her name and number on it. I did, she did, and it makes for one hell of a story, even if I never did see her again.
My wallet. With some certain essentials. My student ID from college (I graduated four years ago, and unscrupulous as it may be, until I stop looking like that picture I will continue to collect my student discounts). My IATA card (International Air Transport Association), basically my membership card to the international association of travel agents. Making me eligible for travel agent discounts wherever applicable, including hotels, shows, and attractions. CASH. I don’t care if we are in the age of credit cards, QuickPay, ApplePay, and BitCoin, cash is still king. I dare you to walk into Chinatown and assert otherwise. Besides, since it is no surprise to ANYONE how many decisions I make revolve around beautiful women, I believe cash is more useful and universal when out with a cute date. And cash carries a bit more message and weight than a piece of plastic when it’s time to take care of the bill. Yes, I pay. Absolutely at the very least for the first few dates.
A handkerchief. Not necessarily always white. But certainly a sturdy yet soft piece of cotton. Something practical and useful with the potential to also be an attractive clothing piece. Once again, I say that a man should carry this not for himself, but for the person he is with. When they are teary-eyed, be there to wipe away their tears. If they get food or dirt or anything else on them, offer it to them to clean themselves up. Preparedness is sexy people. And when your date is done with the handkerchief, let them keep it. They will, if they are good people, take it upon themselves to wash it and return it to you, facilitating future contact!
Dental floss and mints. I’ll tell you what’s not sexy. Bad dental hygiene. Save yourself (or your date) the embarrassment of broccoli in the teeth or fish on the breath. Carry these around to use surreptitiously or to freshen up before the long kiss goodnight.
Cologne. Not everything I list here I carry in my pockets. I would look awkward and blocky, and risk bursting at the seams when trying to bend over to pick up at least one of the things that would inevitably fall out. I deploy these various items strategically around my person. Whether directly in my pockets or in my coat in winter (long coats, gentlemen) or always in my car. That is where you will always find some cologne to lift up the wear and tear of the day. Nothing too heavy. We’re not teenagers in the locker room anymore, gents. Something with a slight subtle presence, just enough to leave an impression when you get close to your date. Nothing to knock them out when you approach from a block away. The sense of smell is the one most strongly associated with memory. Be unforgettable.
My watch. I am still a firm believer and proponent of a man wearing a sturdy watch that frames his wrist well. A fashionable timepiece is a distinguished way to accent an outfit and again, presents an image of preparedness and practicality. This was a gift given to my upon my college graduation. I am rarely seen without it. I like to wear it with the watch face facing down, a habit I picked up from my grandfather. There is something alluring and impressive about the extra gesture of lifting your arm and turning your wrist out to check the time. It draws attention to the gesture and the instrument. I later learned that this was common among soldiers, as the position prevented glare and alerting enemy snipers. Whether my grandfather knew this as well or if it inspired him to wear it, it is still a fascinating piece of history that I now wear every day.
My keys. Organized on a single key fob (that happens to double as a carabiner and a bottle opener). Preparedness is sexy. Two house keys. One for the storm door (without a key cover) and one for the main door (the one with the zombie key cover). The zombie cover was given by a friend for Christmas back in college. I am a huge zombie fan: movies, literature, TV, games. I devour zombie lore. It was a perfect accent to a very personal piece of every-day carry. I live in and through my car. What some may see as a necessity of life I see as one of the great luxuries and privileges. We command the road, feeling every twist and turn in our feet.
So that’s it. Everything I carry with me. Never a burden, never a chore, always a reminder of who I am, what has made me, and how I want to live my life. We carry so much in our lives and not all of it is good or of our own volition. Sometimes it is important to remember the things we choose to and why. I think the Chairman of the Board would abide.
Man: 29 Loneliness: 16