Notes on getting a new gym bag

1. You must not worry what your friends will think of you when they see you carrying around a smart new gray bag with robin’s egg-blue piping and a logo nobody recognizes. Try these excuses. (Note: Do not be troubled by too much regard for the truth.)

  • It was the last one left.
  • You should have seen the pink and purple “Dora the Explorer” bag.
  • The all-black one cost twice as much as I was willing to spend.
  • Look at these great pockets!
  • I was desperate.

2. Nothing will ever be where it is supposed to be. You will continue to discover new pockets for the first three months. The way you use those pockets will change almost daily, so sometimes you will be surprised by what you find — or what you don’t find — in them. Pocket change will go in and never come out. Also you will find items in there that you never put in there. You will swear your wallet would never be in that pock— er, oh… there it is! Rummaging through the bag, you may cut yourself on your razor. Always carry Band-Aids in the bag.

3. You will also misplace your keys. Do not be alarmed. You will always find them in the last place you look. Look in your old bag. Things have a way of creeping back in there — almost without your knowledge.

4. This bag will come with all sorts of design elements meant to make it comfortable or easy to carry. Do not believe any of it. The pad that slides up and down the shoulder strap will never be in the right place. There will be too many straps, many of them as useless as a tailbone or an appendix. Many of them will flummox you, and you will resort to carrying it strapped across your chest. Be prepared for a summer-long diagonal stripe of sweat across your shirts.

5. You will chafe. It will rub against your butt or your legs in an uncomfortable way until you find an acceptable length for the shoulder strap, assuming that ever happens. Learn to live with it, crybaby.

6. You may find it difficult to part with your old bag, even though the zipper is busted, there’s a hole worn through the bottom, and try as you might, you just can’t wash out the scent of piss from a vengeful pet. Beer may have been spilled on it once or twice. It may smell like moldy socks. Do not be seduced by these trappings of familiarity. If you must, clip off a piece to keep under your pillow. As for the rest of the bag, be merciless.

7. Do not become similarly attached to this new bag. You will tell yourself it’s perfectly suited to carry a bowling ball or a lava lamp. You may think you can learn to live with the holes that appear at the stress points near both ends of the shoulder strap. You may say to yourself: At least this zipper lasted a full year. You will ruin it prematurely, just as you have other bags before it. Be prepared.


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