The Secret Shame and the Medium Tote Bag

The Secret Shame and the Medium Tote Bag

I’m a guy who generally moves through his day in a sort of pleasant fog. All my life, I’ve been this way – sort of happy to live an interior life. When I was a kid I started reading all the time – on the bus to school, during class, at home in bed, even while walking around. That hasn’t changed much. I’m all grown up and have a great job, but I still like to read all the time.

The problem is what I read.

I don’t like eBooks. Can’t explain it, just don’t care to read on a screen. Maybe it was because I grew up with the feel of paper books in my hands – their weight, their smell, that sense of the physical presence of thought between the covers. That sort of thing. SO I’ve always got a paperback with me. The trouble is that I’m totally addicted to those teen vampire novels. And I’m a guy.

You wouldn’t think this was such a big deal in this day and age, but all of my co-workers, men and women alike, really made fun of me when I was caught the first time reading one in the break room. It became a big joke, and I got a nickname: Sucker. It was all meant good-naturedly, of course, but it still rankled. So I stopped reading in the breakroom, and when I met people on the bus going to work my shameful paperbacks were hidden in my bag.

Then, the building where I work instituted a new security policy: Clear bags only. My old green backpack was no longer acceptable. No worries, it’s easy enough to find a clear bag these days – they’re a hot trend – but I was suddenly worried that I’d be spied with a teen vampire romance in my bag, and the whole thing would get a second life. So I was really happy when I saw the tote bag with the little pocket in the front.

Why is this genius? Because I have a copy of War and Peace tucked in that pocket, and I slip my shameful paperback du jour behind it. When I run into people on the street, they think I’m either a pretentious kneebiter or a genius of some sort. Either way, better than being thought of as the Weirdo Who Reads Meant for Teen Goth Girls.

The bag gets me through security without a problem, too, which is a nice bonus. A few folks have refused to bring in clear bags, sticking to their briefcases or backpacks, and they’re routinely late for meetings as the security team in the lobby works them over, while I blow past, my secret shame hidden from view by the immense girth of a Russian novel no one’s voluntarily read in fifty years!

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