Is that your meat bag?

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, March 2, 2017

You’d think by now I’d know that any time I try to appear anything else than what I actually am, it goes pear shaped.

Case in point, I splurged (but not really, I rationalized, as the price was slashed) on a trendy new accessory: a woman’s oversized, leather tote. You know the ones I’m talking about (well, you guys won’t, unless you’ve been smacked in the back of the head by them as you sit on a plane and the women carrying them come marching down the aisle) — you can shove everything in these babies: wallet, phone, tablets, book, air filters, and, oh, yes, actual babies, should the need present itself.

I’d seen a couple of them around town, but it was when I was in New York that they seemed positively obligatory and I’m sure what prodded me into my purchase was just how chic and sophisticated everyone who carried one appeared to be. Wearing tailored suits with knotted Hermes scarfs and jaunty, ankle boots, all these women probably attorneys and stock brokers were practically trotting along the sidewalks, nimbly weaving through the masses, Starbucks in one hand, cellphone in the other, on their way to their lavishly appointed offices, I had no doubt.

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And there I stood, like one of the Clampetts, in awe of it all.

“I’m getting me a tote,” I drooled, “when they go on sale.”

Oh, I have my tote, alright, and it’s a beauty. Almost amber in color and particularly impressive to carry the carefully wrapped (within a sandwich bag), latest fecal sample of our latest cat, to be inspected for any sign of round worms. That’s the problem: I purchased a symbol of status that doesn’t apply to my life in Landrum, South Carolina. I can’t possibly resemble any of the women I admired in New York as I don’t have an office in a high rise in which to purposely stride, telling my secretary to move my afternoon appointments and book me a table at the Algonquin, for lunch. We barely have anything that even has two stories, and nobody books a table at Kent’s. You just show up to order your fish sandwich.

Undeterred, I came to the decision not to worry about using my tote only for appropriate situations. I am simply carrying it all the time, I mused, because I like it and it’s been ages since I’ve bought anything for myself. Life is too short, right? Enjoy every moment! Go ahead, use the good china— you get my drift.

Just don’t suppose everyone you encounter might recognize the choice you’ve made for what you intended.

“Is that your meat bag?” asked the woman behind the counter at the farm supply store I happened to be in, last week.

“I’m sorry, my what?” I replied, wondering if I had heard correctly.

“Your meat bag,” she repeated, pointing at my exquisite amber tote. “That’s the sort of thing that most folks use to carry out their meat.”

“I didn’t even know you sold meat, here,” I said, “Just hay and fertilizer and stuff.”

“Oh, no,” she smiled, her voice tinged with pride, “We’ve got a whole bunch of meat. Do you like grass fed beef? Want me to show you our meat?”

“No, thank you,” I said, deflated, my trendy tote having been reckoned to be nothing more than something to haul away a slab of pork butt, or tenderloin. “I’ll pass.”

I can’t even look at my tote the same way after that. And it serves me right, really. Who did I think I was? But I’ve decided to keep using my amber acquisition.

It looks quite nice now, in the barn, holding my horse’s grooming supplies.