An Italian Man-Bag Goes to Texas

April 10, 2012

Man bags are everywhere in Sicily, as common as women’s purses.

Policeman with Man Bag in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Man Bag in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

And so I bought a borsello for my American husband, who gave it the evil eye for about six months. But he broke down one day in Italy, put it on, and soon became so attached to it that he never takes it off. (Perfect fit for the iPad.)

A few weeks ago we ventured into Texas, land of oversized flags, massive vehicles, and cities strangled and mangled by highways. Serious culture shock ensued. For lovers of robust Italianate coffees, being in Texas is like being in the desert with no water.

Desperate, we stood in line at McDonald’s–seemingly the only place in the Lone Star state that you can get anything darker than dishwater (yes, McDonald’s now serves espresso).

My husband visited the loo, Italian borsello over his shoulder. As he was washing his hands, a beefy Texan in worn Wranglers sauntered in.

Spying my husband, the Texan jumped back. “Shoot!” he exclaimed, “Ya scared me fer a minute there! When Ah saw yer purse Ah thought Ah was in the ladies’ room!”

In line at McDonald's in Texas

Himself in line at McDonald's in Texas


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40 comments to An Italian Man-Bag Goes to Texas

  • Charlie

    So when we were in Sicily (and mainland Italy) for two weeks last year, most of the time I carried the purse my wife brought on the trip as she constantly had the big Nikon SLR in her hands (do you have a sister Jann?). As the purse was shaped very man bag like (with iPad inside), I’m sure everyone just thought it was mine 😉

  • That is so funny. Now here’s a twist: My Italian husband, born, raised and stuck like epoxy to his roots, would not be caught dead with a man-purse even in Italy! He puts them in the same category as manicured scented hands and spitting on the sidewalk. That goes for the ladies, too!

  • Andrea

    What stands out the most to me in this post… not being able to find a good cup of coffee in Texas!! That surprises me. I’ve never had a problem finding good coffee in Texas. I live in Louisiana… home of Community Coffee… and don’t like to drink any other kind. My sister lives and Texas. You can buy Community in Texas now! Thank goodness!
    By the way… love your blog. My great grandfather was from Corleone, Sicily. My sister and I went to Sicily in 2004. We had the most magnificent time. What a gorgeous and charming island! The people were so friendly. I didn’t want to come home.

    • Jann

      Andrea, welcome to the blog! I must have been looking in all the wrong places for coffee in TX. Next time I’ll look a little harder, and I’ve never heard of Community Coffee, so I’ll look for that! I do love the coffee in New Orleans. 8 years away from Sicily is too long. You must return!

  • Bill

    I bought a beautiful THE BRIDGE handcrafted leather man bag in Firenze. When I got back to The States, my daughter’s dog chewed the strap, but, my mother, a seamstress, was able to rescue it. In the meantime, while it was being repaired, I bought another THE BRIDGE man bag from eBay. I have 2 now, & love them both. I’d rather have iphone, keys, wallet, chewing gum, gloves in the winter, and work ID badge all in ONE place, rather than rifling through all my pockets, trying to remember where I put something. Sicilian or Texan? Hmmmmmmmm

    • Jann

      Bravo Bill!:) Are you really from TX??? I’ve given Texas a bit of a ribbing here. No offense! It has its good points! Austin, missions, hill country, barbecue, friendly folk…

  • Jann, while I was in Spain last summer I took at least ten shots of men in “murses,” as I call them. To be honest, I think they’re hideous but then Speedos also give me the creeps, so you already know where I stand. Nevertheless, I think everyone should wear what they want as long as they feel comfortable doing so. Good for your husband to do as he pleases and put comfort first! 🙂

  • cemal karahan

    Oh, Jann…Thanks for your advice. I put on a nice speedo in Calhoun lake in Minnesota.I’m not sure if I can go to The U.S.A once again. Still I have to support my son financially in a way…! I haven’t used a gun since I was in the military in 1980 as an artillery soldier. Peace at home , peace in the world, inshallah….!

  • That’s so funny, and fancy having to resort to Macka’s for your coffee. I think I want a manbag for myself they look great. The pic of the guy in the pink “budgie smugglers” is stil making me chuckle. Glad to know your husband survived the mens room with his dignity in tact. ciao lisa

  • John Ferguson

    Ok, I have a man bag and I love it, Texas be damned! I must admit that I use it all of time in Sicily but back home in Fiji it tends to collect a lot of dust. I know I should use it here (since most of the men are in sulu’s (skirts)) and it would fit right in but I just haven’t been able to cross that road yet. Maybe I’ll take it out and wear it around the house tonight….

  • cemal karahan

    The man with pink slip has killed me, Jann…So masculine type but the souls and emotions shoulld be evaluated at some point. Once I put on a slip and of course that was common in those years;noone even mentions or remembers slip unless it is underwear. Bags are ok….! The sport bags in front on the belly are still my favourite and nice accesory when wearing jeans…!

    • Jann

      Cemal, a word of advice: next time you’re in TX don’t wear a slip (aka speedo) or a man-bag. Only safe thing to wear there is a Stetson, a gun, and cowboy boots.

  • Was momentarily confused by which bag you were referring to in the picture of the uomo in the pink Speedo.
    Your husband should have told the Texan that it wasn’t a purse, it was his holster.

  • Nancy

    That’s funny, made me laugh. But I’ve been in restrooms in Italy where I came out and was shocked to see a guy standing at the sink. No mistake though…co-ed restrooms.

  • Katherine A.

    Brilliant photo series! I really would like to know what the man in the pink had in his murse, but perhaps some things are better left a mystery? Women can leave us breathless too: in New York City once I stood beside a very elderly lady who was clearly a widow, being clothed in black from head to toe except for a pair of capri trousers in a lively orange and pink floral pattern peeking out from beneath her skirt! She explained, in eloquent Sicilian, that “the wind from the scooters offended her dignity.”

    I wonder if the police officer was carrying his lunch? 🙂

    • Jann

      Thank you so much, Katherine. Glad you enjoyed this. I love your story about the capri-clad widow! Who knows what the policeman was carrying: Lunch? Cigs? Tickets?

  • Io sono Siciliana

    P.S. My favorite is the ‘Man in the Pink Cuppolo. I always wondered about him!

  • Io sono Siciliana

    This is great! I knew an Italain guy years in Florida who carried a man bag, and I always thought that him having the guts to carry it was really sexy. Love the man in orange and pink — he’s so breathakingly handsome! And I HEAR YOU about the coffee. People from other parts of the world laugh at American coffee because it tends to be so weak. Dunkin’ Donuts makes a good cup — with a shot of espresso added, its not bad. I love your photos — Ciao.

    • Jann

      Thanks for commenting, Nancy! (Love your moniker, BTW) Thanks for the tip about coffee in Dunkin Donuts–dangerous to enter though because then I’ll order a half-dozen donuts.

  • sanneke

    Great story ! Culture shocks…

  • Tom

    Hi Jann, you always make me smile. I’ve carried several different canvas “man-bags” ever since owning an iPad. My favorite one I bought in the open market on Gozo, in Victoria. But canvas ones, while more manly than the leather ones, always get stained and bad looking. So I went to Coach and got myself a black leather MURSE, that’s what a Greek friend in NYC says it is! Lots of compartments for the cords, cell phone and wallet, and not much bigger than the iPad itself. And saddle soap keeps it spiffy! Lol. TOM

    • Jann

      Thanks for your comment, Tom! Ah, the Maltese markets! I’ll keep an eye open for another one next time I’m there. Because a guy needs more than one MURSE! One to match each outfit? Each pair of shoes?

  • Absolutely Brilliant.

    I’m suprised your hubs didn’t get his ass kicked in Texas w/ some cowboy!

    Haa Haaaa.

    Fabulous Post, Sweets.

    So glad your hubs has found his feminine side. <3

  • Jovan B.

    So funny!

  • Linda

    The second photo – the bag with the hot pink slip is a riot. Takes a secure man to pull that look off!

  • This is too funny! My husband went through the same thing when he landed on the shores of America after breaking down and wearing a man-bag all over Italy. And I’ve broken down too… the only place that seems to serve really good coffee in the States is McDonald’s. Can you believe it?

    Thanks for the wonderful comedic post!

    • Jann

      Ah, Barbara, only an American who has lived in and loved Italy can understand how tough it is to be on these shores. I have a real problem with patronizing McDonald’s, but when it’s a question of getting a caffeine fix, my ethical qualms go right out the window.

  • Hilarious Jann. I wonder who got the bigger shock… It takes a real man to carry it off though. Respect to your worldly and very brave husband! Jxx

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