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I just want to take a few minutes to discuss something that I don’t see/hear discussed often in these parts, most likely because they are seen so infrequently. That item is the “murse”. Also referred to as a “man bag” or “man purse”, the murse is something that always catches my eye on the rare occasions I see one.
My first recollection of seeing a murse was several years ago, shortly after I first entered the private practice of law. A gentleman came in to see me for representation, and he was carrying a very nice, very expensive-looking man bag. It was not a “messenger bag”, for it was much smaller than such things generally are. It left no question in my mind that the gentleman was carrying a man purse. Having worked in the handbag department at a local department store for several months prior to law school, I recognized the bag and the brand, and knew it was marketed as a purse. I was intrigued since, as I indicated, it was the first time I’d seen a man carrying one in person. In this area, such sightings were unusual, particularly at that time. I struggled with whether I needed to suggest that he not bring his bag to his hearing(s), not because I had a problem with it, but because I was worried about how it would be perceived by those responsible for making determinations on his case, and whether it would create an automatic, albeit unwarranted, bias against him. When I finally decided what I would say, words I no longer remember, and worked up the nerve to mention it, he indicated he had already considered that, and would not be bringing his bag to the hearing(s). Whew!
Let me again say, I don’t personally have an issue with a man carrying a bag. Frankly, I don’t understand how men get by with only their pockets for carting their necessaries around. My keys alone take up more space than my pockets would allow comfortably, not to mention how bulgy my jeans would appear were I to shove home and office keys and my car’s key fob into them. Add to that a wallet and a cell phone at a minimum, and in my opinion, that is sufficient to warrant the carrying of a purse. I get that men don’t have the need for many of the items women carry (e.g., makeup, feminine items, etc.), but many have need for business cards (and a holder for the same), ink pens, a small note pad, and the like. For those reasons alone, I’m not sure why a purse isn’t a staple item in everyone’s wardrobe.
Regardless of my analysis, however, we don’t all carry purses, so when I see a man carrying one, it draws my attention. That was the case outside of a courtroom recently. Of all the people lined up outside the courtroom waiting to go through security, the man with the murse was the one who caught my attention. Granted, that is not all (about him) that caught my attention. See, I generally think of a murse as a fashion forward object. I have an expectation that one who carries a murse pays attention to fashion and style, and that he knows how to dress for any occasion. In my mind, a murse-carrier knows that what one wears to a particular event says a lot about the level of respect one holds for said event.
One might think, based on my comments, that the man in question was a spiffy dresser, with excellent fashion sense, sporting a very cutting edge style. One might expect that he was dressed far better than anyone else in the courtroom, whether litigant, attorney, or judge. One might guess that he stood out from the crowd. And one would be accurate as to one of those statements; he most certainly stood out from the crowd.
See, the gentleman in question wore gym shorts, Nike Shox, which my friend Emily declared a “triple fail”, and a souvenir t-shirt from St. Louis. With. His. Murse. He was accompanied by a gentleman wearing “jorts”, a striped t-shirt, and what may have been Reebok hightop sneakers. Let’s be clear; I am not judging the fact he was carrying a muse. The simple fact is, this is not at all what I expect from a man carrying a murse. Rather, if you are a grown-ass, murse-carrying man, I expect you to know this is not appropriate court attire. The non-murse-carrying men knew better. They knew that what my friend Julie described as “too-short gym shorts from the 90’s, a t-shirt, and a man-purse,” did not scream “responsibility” or “upstanding citizen”. How, then, did he miss that memo? Did he think merely sporting the man-purse would negate what I, correctly or incorrectly, otherwise interpreted to be outward display of his disrespect for the proceedings?
I can’t say. His case was not on my docket, so I was not afforded the opportunity to speak with him — not that “what the heck were you thinking when you got dressed for court today”, would have been an appropriate question for me to have asked anyway. I must say, however, that I sincerely hope his case was continued to another day (when I will be present), so that I will have another opportunity to observe his unique (read: questionable) sense of style…