It started when I went to a writer’s conference. Each attendee was given a tote bag with the American Christian Fiction Writers logo on it. It turned out to be pretty handy to carry around the hotel. I loaded it with pens, a notepad, the workshop schedule, free books and bookmarks I picked up, business cards, my book proposal, coin purse, lipstick and other personal items. When I got home I kept all my writing-relating stuff in it for when I wanted to, say, go to Panera and spend a couple of hours writing away from dusty bookshelves and the crumbs on the kitchen floor.
Then when we went on vacation it became my fun-stuff-to-do-in-the-car bag. I tossed in a couple of novels, a book of Sudoku puzzles, magazines, 3×5 cards for jotting down interesting recipes, Pez and a bag of wintergreen Life Savers (my secret indulgences), and a couple of audio books I rented from the library in case the two monkeys in the back seat got restless or starting bickering. In a gift shop I found another cute bag with a brightly colored geometric design to carry all our souvenirs.
When we came home from our trip the washing machine broke down before I finished the first load of laundry. I loaded three baskets of sweaty t-shirts, muddy jeans, dirty socks and underwear into the car and headed for the nearest laundromat. I packed my new tote bag to take along. Instead of watching sudsy clothes go round-and-round, I started a new novel, worked three Sudoku puzzles and finished the bag of mints.
Eventually, I got tired of using the same two bags each time I wanted to take a bag somewhere. I started buying cute bags whenever I saw one. Soon I had five or six. I hit every thrift store and garage sale in a twenty mile radius. My collection grew to eight or ten. My family threatened to intervene.
This time of year, I can hardly walk through Target without feeling the pull. Who can’t use a cute new candy-striped or polka-dot bag to take to the pool? On every family outing I’m expected to take along a box of granola bars and a couple of bottles of water. What am I supposed to carry them in? I’m not about to use a crumpled brown paper bag when I can sling the snacks over my shoulder in style, encased in an insulated lime green bag with little white starfish. Am I right?
If you ever hear a rumor that I’ve been captured and carted off to rehab it won’t be because of drugs or alcohol. Oh, no. It’ll be the bags.