Karen Krizanovich: I Lug You Long Time
Yesterday, I found a carrot in my Birkin bag. ‘It’s for the horse’, I said. Actually, it was a leftover from seeing Oscar Madison pull a submarine sandwich from his pocket in The Odd Couple. For weeks afterwards, I’d gone around carrying food on my person, thinking it cool and amusing. I was young and stupid, caring less what people thought and more about what amused me. I also thought that someone else would find it funny and that that person and I would have a great old laugh. Well, that didn’t happen. Picnic hampers, picnic baskets, bento boxes, tiffins and lunch boxes can carry food. Anything else is sort of disgusting.
While Descartes didn’t say ‘I copy, therefore I am’, the idea could be extended to ‘when we copy, we find our tribe.’ I’m not talking about the outlandish, such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s cousin, Little Edie Beale, the co-star of David and Albert Maysles’ cult documentary Grey Gardens. Little Edie shared a shambolic 28-room mansion in the Hamptons with Big Edie, her mother, both ex-socialites. Little Edie’s most famous look? ‘The best thing is to wear pantyhose or some pants under a short skirt,’ she said. ‘You can always take off the skirt and use it as a cape.’ Not that she got out much, but Little Edie maybe needed a larger suitcase.
It’s not only by their shoes can you tell a member of your tribe, but also luggage. What you travel with is an enormous marker of the person, your values, your career, your insecurities and your accidents. A bloke on the train yesterday excluded himself from my tribe by wearing Clarks and carrying Samsonite. Not that there’s anything wrong with affordable functionality and maybe that case was one of Samsonite’s new GeoTrakrs? Personally, though, I like something more beautiful, with great design and perfect functionality. I want something that enhances my life and allows me the illusion that one small area of my life is in order. What picks out your tribe is discernment. As Jeremy Renner said: ‘I once dated a girl who had really ugly luggage. It sounds strange, but it looked like someone vomited on a suitcase. I couldn’t go on a trip with her.’ The first thing a man of Jeremy’s caliber notices about a woman is her luggage. Watch out, ladies.
Tribes are united and scattered by basic likes and dislikes. For example, when I see a person with Tumi luggage, I know that’s my peeps. It’s not the price of the stuff, it’s the stuff. Tumi’s built to last and its signature black ballistic nylon is discreet and strong. It’s not like Louis Vuitton, which might help you look like Elizabeth Taylor. Nor is it like Rimowa, which, although beautiful and practical, does sort of scream, ‘Look at ME! I MATTER!’ What luggage you use doesn’t need to work hard to say you’re still relevant. Granted, if I saw a Globe-Trotter Original or perhaps a 19th-century Hartmann, I would definitely think they are interesting choices. Or you could surprise me totally and go for a Ghurka bag which is simply gorgeous and charitable.
We’re maybe encouraged to stop buying things and have ‘experiences’ instead, but of all actual things-to-spend-money-on, luggage keeps your stories. Like useful souvenirs, they can be totems to our experiences. My sumptuous Tumi black leather duffle reminds me of Los Angeles. The bright-red Olympia wheelie with the white dots all over it? My mother. ‘You’ll always see it on the luggage carousel.’ ‘Mom, I can see it from space.’ My father’s old suitcase – a relic of the 1940s, hard-shell with an inside shelf, textured stripe on the outside, leather handle – would be very comfy in Casablanca.
Then there are items which, no matter how carefully a member of your tribe has chosen them, are never quite there. In luggage terms, it’s the carry-on or, known after a few spritzen as the Herbert Von (Karajan, in the event you don’t get it). While there are no Federal Aviation Administration-approved dimensions, the maximum size you should drag with you is 45” in 22” x 14″ x 9″ dimensions for international on-board cases and that’s awkward. The most beautiful one I’ve seen is Bric’s Bellagio Carry-On Spinner Trunk, which is not only traditionally beautiful but also serious kit. Beautiful people will follow you home with a case like this. It’s just the carry-on’s lumpen nature that makes it typically hideous. This is where my pompous idea of ‘tribes’ comes into its own. Despite the proliferation of videos on how to cram more crap into a bag that’s going to fall from the overhead, my advice is not to learn how to pack your carry-on more effectively. The real wisdom? Need less stuff. (And, note to self, leave carrots at stable.)
Karen Krizanovich began her career as a Sex Agony Aunt for Sky Magazine and writes for The Sunday Times, GQ and others. When not being admired, she is much sought after.