Last year, I watched the Counter Terrorism Unit’s agent extraordinaire, Jack Bauer, on the hit show “24” shoot, punch, ram, run, jump, tackle, hit, smash, tackle and, in every other manly way imaginable, fight a gang of ruthless terrorists bent on killing a foreign dignitary who was visiting Los Angeles. The most interesting thing was that the entire time he was saving the world from chaos and war, he was carrying a purse.
Not a woman’s purse, silly! A man’s purse! A manly olive green, canvas shoulder bag in which he kept his cell phone, his supermarket savings card, his Christmas card list, his Lava soap, hair gel, deodorant, a laptop, keys, a pair of clean underwear, a sleep mask, handcuffs, pepper spray, a company charge card, dental floss, expense account receipts, half of a ham panini, change for the meter, moisturizer, hand cream, a Taser, sunglasses, a GPS, cell phone charger, wallet, checkbook, Dentyne and this week’s script changes.
It was perfect bag for daytime or evenings, late nights and early mornings – pretty much 24 hours a day. And it went with practically everything. Not that a big worry for Jack Bauer, he’s been wearing the same clothes for six years. But for the rest of us who like to change more frequently, say, four or five times a day, with nice, long, hot showers in between, it works just as well.
Some men might want to call it, a “shoulder bag,” or a “messenger bag” or for the really insecure, “a military shoulder bag” – as if when you’re digging around in it after brunch at a wine bar saying, “I know those breath mints are in here someplace” it will sound more masculine.
Not that you’d ever catch Jack Bauer in a wine bar – you’d catch him wearing Special Ops panties and big hoop earrings, first. No, Jack likes out-of-the-way places – abandoned chemical plants, empty loading docks, deserted warehouses, half-full parking garages – all locations where you can film on the cheap.
This season Jack hasn’t been carrying his man purse. He must have left it in China where he spent the last year and a half (six months in TV time) and hasn’t had the time to shop for another one. Jack doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who likes to go shopping. I can’t see him in Macy’s saying, “Does it come in any other colors?” “How many items can I take into the dressing room at one time?” “Does this make me look fat?” “Does it come in ecru?” I can, however, see him holding a 9mm on a sales associate and saying “Pick out something nice or I’ll blow your head off. Now! Move it!”
I can’t picture Jack in a restaurant, either. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jack eat anything on that show. I keep trying to imagine the kind of restaurant that Jack Bauer would like but I draw a blank.
“Would you like to hear about our specials tonight, Mr. Bauer?”
“Do I look like I have time for that? Give me something raw. Quick. Like a lobster. Don’t waste time killing it, I’ll shoot it here.”
This isn’t to say that Jack doesn’t have a tender side. He actually shed a tear a few weeks back after he had to kill one of his best friends. I know what you’re thinking, “friends don’t shoot friends in the neck,” but he had to or terrorists would set off a nuclear weapon in Los Angeles killing thousands of people. But it went off anyway at the end of the show.
“Whoops! Sorry about killing you. My bad!” Would this have happened if he had still had his man purse? Maybe, maybe not. But at least he would have had a tissue in there to wipe away his tears.
Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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