Campomaggi bags often break down categories, which is part of their charm for yours truly, an inveterate metaphysician. Poring over the Marcopoloni website as I often do on breaks from my editing jobs, I noticed the Amici. It looked like a girl’s bag; and indeed, if you google “amici,” you will be informed that the name may refer to a girly bag. But Marcopoloni, like Campomaggi, isn’t interested in confirming other people’s conventions (which is part of their charm for this metaphysician). So I decided to look harder at this bag.
It had all the makings of a great man bag. It zipped tight; it had pockets on the outside for phone and keys; it was somewhat narrow, making it sit on the hip (for older men) but could ride next the buttocks (for younger, who don’t mind bringing attention to their buttocks). Best of all, it had generous handles, so the bag could be scooped up from the car seat or the seat next to you at the bistro when your lady friend just happens by.
So, Emi had to be alerted! Manbag sighting on website, but . . . . the Amici was being presented as a lady’s bag, or so it seemed to me; it had cousins on the site that were definitely lady’s bags, even by Campomaggi’s liberal standards (their lady’s bags are indisputably womanly). But could the Amici be both! The Amici is, after all, a Campomaggi bag.
After doing research, Emi agreed it could be a manbag. A new issue arose: in Marcopoloni’s holdings there were two versions (you are warned that Campomaggi bags tend to be one-of-a-kind). One version, in black, was definitively horizontal. Another version, in distressed cognac, was almost square. The difference was genderish, or at least I persuaded myself of this (and I hope someone will challenge this). The more vertical in cognac was worth a try.
And it has been tried and tried again. First, my Amici became the model for a new blog banner (see The Literary Bag at tomdevelyn.info); even photoshopped, it holds its own. My Amici is like Wallace Stevens’s jar in Tennessee: “The wilderness rose up to it, / And sprawled around, no longer wild.” The blogosphere is indeed the new wilderness, and I hope my new blog, under the aegis of my Amici, will create a space for itself.
Second test: I recently used the bag on a trip to Bath, UK, where we stay at The Abbey Hotel and confront the grandchildren, at this point limited to Mary Elizabeth of the “terrible twos” and her younger sibling Frederick Emmanuel D’Evelyn, whom I have nick-named Il Presidente, and his lion-like roar bids fair for his living up to that handle. The Amici, if not quite defeating Mary and Freddie’s capacity for creating wilderness wherever they venture, at least reminded me throughout that one must not take appearances as definitive, that experience is constantly challenging stereotypes, and that the most we can hope for is that, in the end as in the beginning, love conquers all.
Bags personify our condition amidst universal change, of personal wandering in an open universe: this is the romance of bags as I understand them. On this trip, the Amici is my bag, and my bag is “literary,” so it will not be amiss to remove from its back pocket a haiku written on the spot:
Full English breakfast
one terrible two, one infant,
tears, wide-eyes, big laughs