Recently I received the diagnosis of cervical arthritis (that's arthritis of the neck spine, people). The doctor raised his eyebrow at my gigantic backpack: "By the way," he said, "that's is not helping you. I said, "You are referring to Gargantua?"
How to carry my writerly implements? My Moleskine journal and fancy pens, books and magazines, changes of clothes for the kids, swim trunks in case of water or sprinkler park, and the environmentally conscious yet very heavy aluminum water bottles for continuous hydration? Not to mention the laptop.
The doctor said, "How about a fanny pack?" Then, noticing my face was now on the waxed and disinfected floor, he leveled the karate chop to chic, "They're available at Leather World in fashion colors, and in leather."
Leather World: a place when I was young I swore I would grow up never to be, and in front of a mirror assessing the damage to my figure of a large red fanny pack. The young European salesgirl had first pointed me to the fancy handbags, when I said, "No, no handbags. Encircling purses, please."
"What?" she said.
"Encircling purses, please?"
"You mean fanny pack?"
"Can we just agree to call them encircling purses, please? Or how about hip pouches?"
"Are you traveling abroad?" She asked.
"No," I said. But she seemed to need an explanation. "Cervical arthritis," I said.
She looked at me. "My neck," I said.
We exchanged blinks, and in them fleeting recognition: that one day she would be older, possibly with neck stiffness and that once I was once young and had a neck that swiveled smoothly as an office chair. That was nice. In a moment it was over. "Well, we in fact do have an array of hip pouches," she said.