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The Green Bag and Old Henna Beard

December 3, 2010

A few days ago I wrote about a bag I got for my anniversary. It was green. It was perfect.

The bag does have one flaw, though, which is that when I put the wrist part around my wrist, it can sometimes fall off. Actually, it always falls off. The clasp is lovely but not effective. I plan to address this with the people at the boutique where it’s from, to see if I can be fixed. However, this leads us into the story.

I lose my wallet more than anyone else. Do you think you lose your wallet a lot? I am still confident that I am going to take the gold in this event.

Sound bad and it’s certainly inconvenient but it’s generally ok in retrospect—after I have canceled the credit cards being retrospect—because I also get it back. I get it back in more miraculous ways than anyone else, and more times than anyone else. These facts reconfirm that the universe and New York are for the most part fact a warm small places rather than terrifying crime dens.

Not that anyone has accused the universe or even New York of being a terrifying crime den.

Out loud.


The most memorable time I lost my wallet was when I was least prepared to deal with it. I had been checked into the hospital and told that I would have a baby that night, and then everyone changed their mind.

As in, “Tada! We will send you home with no baby! We will send in a team of nursing assistants to help you get your socks back on. And we are sending you home with is a thing that is basically a gas can but you’ll note the unsubtle yellow color. Take it home and pee into until it is full, at which point you can return it to our lab, so we can decide to check you into the hospital again, to have another baby! I mean, the first baby! Except that no, once again, no baby, go home, you whale, is what we will say. We will say, ‘psyche!’ Then we will tell you not to get out of bed until we check you into the hospital a third time, and your spirit has been totally broken, and at that point, we may let you have a baby.”

(End quote.)

After I was released from the hospital that first time, I made Matthew carry everything, because I felt sorry for myself and my hands hurt from IV holes. We stopped and got some takeout (Greek) then jumped (lumbered) into a taxi. We told the driver where we were going and he made a grumpy noise about taking us to Brooklyn, saying “no no no,” and my husband, who was tired and jumpy like a gonna-be-dad and carrying lots of things, started reciting the civic transportation code. You know, the one about how the driver doesn’t have a choice, how he must take us anywhere within 5 boroughs, etc.

I demanded that we get out of the cab because I didn’t want someone crabby to start with and furious because Matthew was about to make a citizen’s arrest to drive me home. So I said “I know he’s wrong but let’s get out of the damn car and find another one.” And we got out. In my mind, I was only in charge of the giant yellow pee container, and Matthew supposed to take care of the takeout and my purse, plus whatever he had. Not being accustomed to purses, he left my bag in the cab.

And this proves my point: despite our differences with the driver, he happily brought it to Matthew the next day and dropped it off at his office.

See? Life is complicated, but largely good.

And then . . . (back to the green bag story.)

One recent day I was wheeling our blue stroller along with my green bag hooked to the back handle, having forgotten its tendency to disengage. We were almost home and I was thinking about getting Henry a slice at the new pizza place near our apartment. I wanted to stave off its inevitable closure, and also hoping to stave off the struggle for what to serve for lunch, which is (one of the) parts of the day during which Henry and I stare blankly at one another, and then he goes to the big kitchen cabinet and squats to the bottom edge since he can’t reach the handle and gets himself some crackers. Or French coconut cubes. Or cat food.

Pizza might help that situation. But did I have any money? Better check. Uh, wait, where is that fancy new bag, anyhow?

Oh, no.

I knew I’d had it when I dropped a friend off at her apartment building about 10 minutes before, about a third of a mile away. Then I continued down that street, crossed the street with the stroller to ask if Henry recognized the house we moved out of five months ago, then turned left onto the Avenue where we live. I remembered at what point I had crossed to the other side there, too, so looking shouldn’t be so hard. I remembered seeing a youngish Chinese man give me a funny look as I struggled the stroller onto the curb. Had I seen anyone else on the walk?

As I crossed the street and swept my gaze back and forth along both sides of the sidewalk, covering all ground, I saw another man I remembered seeing. He was wearing a knitted Patagonian style- ski hat, with flaps pulled over his ears, and a blazer, and despite this interesting regalia, his most distinguishing characteristic was a short-clipped beard that was mostly gray, but the tips of which had been reddened with henna. He had dyed his beard at one point but it was growing out, I guess.

He was memorable, and here he was again. I stopped him to enlist his help.

“I lost a little green bag,” I said.

He hadn’t spoken yet, but I was already wondering how much English he spoke, so my conversational momentum was slowing just as I noticed a patch of that very same green color as the bag peeking forth from his blazer. His blazer which  he was holding closed, against my gaze.


Dropping your bag is different than having it stolen, I am well aware. But this posed a truly uncomfortable situation. I was becoming sure it was my bag. “The bag that was formerly mine.” Should I just . . . point? Would that be rude?

I just stood and looked at it.

He pulled it out. Well, no, he pulled my wallet out of his blazer. He’d already taken it out of the green bag. “This is yours miss? This with the $21 dollars inside?”

Points for calling me “miss,” but he had already counted out and taken the cash, so, no points. “I guess you can keep that,” I said.

And by that, I meant, “I will unwillingly forfeit $21 to cut this interaction short and get back my leather goods. And my plastic.”

“You are sure?” He was a little eager to keep it. “Because . . . ” And that’s when he did the gesture. It was one finger held vertically swirling around and around in the air.

“You see, I believe . . . ” and he thought hard on how to translate his belief into English while his finger swirled.

“You believe that what comes around goes around?” I asked.

“That is it!”

I let him keep the $21 and he gave me back my wallet and my green bag. I had lost my ability to buy pizza. I was angry. But I am lucky that I got my bag back. And I’m slightly worried because if what comes around goes around, things don’t look great for Old Henna Beard.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    December 5, 2010 1:44 pm

    Is it organic vegetarian cat food? Because then I think it’s ok for children.

  2. December 10, 2010 5:53 pm

    But is it okay for cats then? My kid used to grab a handful of cat kibble every time she walked past the cat dish at her friend A’s house, which was conveniently attached to our house. And then she would say, pointedly, “I don’t eat cat food. But A does.”
    My thoughts about Henna Beard are that maybe the $21 was coming to him, already, on account of whatever is going on with his beard? I have certainly had things happen to my hair that made me think the universe owed me a little pizza money or something.

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