As we climb into my parents' Prius, we hear a frantic voice shouting from behind us. It's the server, flying through the front doors of Royal Wok. He waves something wildly over his head.
"Hey, mister!" he calls, his accent thick.
The waiter at our regular Thursday dining facility thinks my father's name is Mr. Ho. Apparently, the Japanese symbols for "harmony" and "change for the better" that my dad has tattooed on his upper left arm actually mean "Mr. Ho" in Chinese. My dad is totally cool with that and, in fact, now prefers to be called thusly.
"Mister Ho!" the waiter hollers again across the Longmont parking lot. "You forgot your, uh... "
He stops, looking down at the object in his hands: a black, leather satchel that contains my father's phone, Kindle, some pens, chapstick, loose change and a driver's license that does not, in fact, read "Mr. Ho." Said satchel has a shoulder strap.
The waiter eyes the object with concern and confusion, for the title of such an object has been utterly lost in translation.
The word he is looking for is "murse."
Yes, my father proudly totes a man-purse. A mandbag. How else can he carry everything around with him, he reasons. And I second that. I don't know how men can function in society without a fully stocked purse.
My husband explains that he has strict assigned seating in his shorts pockets for each must-have object. Keys in the left front. Wallet in right back. Phone in left back. Cigarettes in right front. He wears Dickies for the bonus fifth pocket, which belongs to whatever toy or trash our 3-year-old daughter forces upon him.
If a single extra object enters his circulation, it breaks the entire system. This includes loose change, which is why our daughter does not think money grows on trees, but she does think it rains from daddies. He leaves a pool of nickels everywhere he sits.
"My car is my purse," he explains. "I keep everything else in there. That's why men can never go more than 200 yards from their car."
Some men who understand the value of a "murse," but who are still afraid to make the full leap, wear small backpacks or "sling daypacks," which are single-strap, zippered pouches. Um. Tell me how that's different from a "murse," and I'll tell you how the Japanese symbol for "change for the better" is different from "Ho" in Chinese. Actually, I can't tell you that. I speak German.
My husband has to scoot and shuffle every time he sits down, to get comfortable sitting on a wallet or phone. Or he has to unload and reload. Seems like extra work to me. But as he sees it, it's worth it to have your hands free the rest of the time.
"But I'm hands-free with a purse, too," I explain. "It stays on my shoulder."
"No. It doesn't. It never stays on your shoulder," he corrects me. "I always end up carrying your purse."
Suddenly I get it. He doesn't carry a "murse" because he already is carrying a purse.
And suddenly I understand my dad, too. My wise, wise father, a husband of 40 years. If he's already carrying his own purse, his shoulders are occupied. And better to carry a lightweight black "sling daypack" than my mother's 70-pound, bedazzled, colorful, full-sized piece of luggage, bursting with lipstick and concealer and other mysterious feminine products.
No doubt, Mr. Ho understands how to "change for the better."
I think I'll get my hubby his own "murse." With a special pocket just for my stuff. All problems solved.
Read more tales straight from the strangest city on Earth, Boulder, Colo., here: Only In Boulder.