Nov 4, 2020–I could be a nudist if it weren’t for not having pockets.

There is some vestigial relationship between boys and pockets. From the day we found our first shiny stone or dead lizard, boys have needed a place to put them. The pocket soon became home for the aptly named pocketknife that we all received before we were experienced enough to not slice our fingers.

As we hit middle school, pockets concealed handmade leather wallets, black combs, and Chapstick.

In high school, we began carrying ballpoint pens in our shirt pockets, creating the permanent blue stains that verified our nerd status.

One bond all boys share is the secret pocket that Levi Strauss stitched above the right font pant leg. That little hidey-hole, almost impossible to access while sitting, was the place we stashed our breath mint on a date, our locker key, or a tightly folded note from the cute girl sitting two seats up.

It was so secret, we usually forgot to empty it before Mom ran it through the wash, so the note turned into a a soggy blue wad and the mint formed a covalent bond with the denim.

No one was happier than I to discover khaki cargo pants in the aisles of K-Mart. Here was a man-boy’s perfect pant architecture. In addition to the conventional pocket placement fore and aft, some enterprising tailor found space on the outside of each thigh to place a roomy, expandable, Velcro-sealed pocket. At last we had a place to stow our water bottle, pocket calculator, and even a small textbook. The fact it offended fashionistas made it all the more desirable.

The true pioneers of pocket technology were farmers. No respectable farmer would leave the porch without his bib overalls. Those roomy, ticking-striped rural uniforms were the first garment to recognize the value of nuclear-level pocketry.

Overall pockets were deep and wide, with added loops to hold hammers and fence tools. The bib offered more real estate for storage. There you found a row of narrow slots designed to keep carpentry pencils, reading glasses, and fresh cigars within reach of every tobacco-chewing tractor jockey.

I remember the excitement when I discovered the photographer’s vest. A working photographer never has enough hands or pockets to hold all the gear. What better solution than a vest to hold a half-dozen film canisters, extra lenses, filters, and flash attachments. Sadly, digital photography has made the vest obsolete, though I still can’t bring myself to toss mine. Kodak may make a comeback.

Pockets are the gateway drug to bags. Yes, I was one of those kids who carried a briefcase in high school. Now I boast bags for every possible occasion, in leather and canvas, with compartments for computers, cords, phones, tablets, and pens. This man has never met a bag I couldn’t find something to carry in it.

My latest acquisition is a sling bag. It’s like a fanny pack you sling over your shoulder, just big enough to hold my wallet, phone, some loose change, and Chapstick.

My man purse.


When I wear it to breakfast I have to endure catcalls about my “purse” from the coffee-swilling wags at the grown-up’s table. But I’m not the one sitting on a fat wallet that’s tugging their pants dangerously close to crack-tile exposure.

The irony is not lost on me that sporting a sling bag creates the real danger of making “the pocket” irrelevant. Transferring all my pocket essentials to the bag means never having to worry about the scenario of pulling on a clean pair of jeans and realizing I forgot to transfer the dead lizard from the old pair.

For that reason, I make it a point to keep a fresh tube of Chapstick in all my pants. I would think nudists would need a lot of Chapstick.