The Bag Collector

There’s probably no better time than when I’m looking to move from my apartment to bring up a rather peculiar aspect of my life, and that aspect is that I collect bags.
When I say that I collect bags I don’t really mean that I collect them. I don’t go to antique bag stores in dingy alleys on a search for rare, old bags in mint condition. When I say I collect bags I mean that I find it hard to throw bags after I use them.
If you will open the cupboards under my sink or look above the desk in my workplace you will come upon hordes (okay, not hordes, but too many) bags in different shapes, sizes and texture. Stacked or meshed together in a dizzying display of colors and logos. In many of them you may find old receipts, which hearken back to the day the bags were originally used. Canada, where I reside, environmentally-conscious as it is, has recently implemented a five-cent price tag on carry bags. You bought something? You want a bag? Pay up. This can be annoying because sometimes you’re just walking down the street from somewhere to somewhere and want to buy something and you don’t carry a bag, because when you left the house/office/Turkish bath you didn’t know you were gonna buy that something and you find your self having to pay–

But I digress. The bottom line is that it is a good thing. No, not for the environment, for me! Yes, finally I have use for all the bags I’ve been saving! It even makes the bag-collecting more special, because each bag that is stacked in my house has been bought and paid for. It is a product, exactly like the things it’s carrying. So now I may have fewer bags, but the value of the “collection” is much higher. Of course, once in a while a bag is thrown, especially if it serves as a garbage bag. So yes, I don’t necessarily horde them, I use them when I can.
Because you see, that’s the whole point. My mother is a bag collector, and for some reason I followed her footsteps with the same twisted psychology which lies behind this bag-collecting perversion, and here it is:

You never know when you’re gonna need a bag.

That’s right. You never know! Why waste a good bag after a one-time use? Yes! I am the original environmentalist! I didn’t throw bags away before I used them at least a second time after the original usage. Now, I am sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t throw out bags after a one-time use, especially in this environmentally-conscious day and age, but still, I believe that I have taken the bag-collecting skills into a new height, because, well… you never know when you’ll need one!

I can say it without it sounding inappropriate so I’ll say it: there is something very Jewish in the not-throwing-stuff-away school of thought. Jews have been persecuted for many generations by many persecutors and always found it hard to stay in one place, so the order of the day was to move. Move. Move. And when you move, you need to pack, and when you pack, what do you need? You got it. Bags. Lots and lots of bags. So I’m pretty sure it is in our collective gene pool – to not throw packaging materials away. If I could save boxes without filling up my apartment and suffocating on carton fumes, I guess I would’ve collected boxes too, because, you know… you never know when you’ll need a box.

One of the greatest scenes in modern cinema is the scene from American Beauty – pretty much the thematic centerpiece of the film – where the bag dances in the wind, and it is indeed beautiful. One of the reasons it’s beautiful is because it is a bag being set free. It does not need to carry anything anymore. It does not need to obey the whims of man. It is a free spirit, doing as it pleases, jumps here, flies there, and dances.

If I had the guts to do it, if i could let go, I would’ve waited for a particularly windy day, and then take all my bags outside and set them free. I would watch them fly down or up the street, or get caught on a tree branch, or stick to a window like a squashed bug. I would let them all go, all the bags I’ve collected, and let them do as they will, or rather, let the wind do as it will with them.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s not really “green” to throw plastic bags all over the place, but it’s a metaphor, right? The metaphor.

Hmm… or is it?

Yeah, it’s a metaphor.

For now.


3 comments so far

  1. Razvan on

    ok, so here we are at 10 days since you post this…tell me, did you set free those bags?


    tha thing is that in front of my window, there is a red plastic bag (I’m not kiddin) trapped on a tree branch, for more than one year. because of the wind, snow, rain, now it looks lika a scarf to that branch. maybe that was it’s fate, but what if that bag suffered because of not being able to deal with freedom?

    in other words, plastic bags could be the man’s best friend, as a dog. and maybe the human kind is willing to accept that, you know, some of the dingnity is payed back to the bags: they worth now 5 cents. is better than nothing.

    they also invented very reliable bags capable to populate your pockets, to be together with you in any circumstances.


    do you still want to set them free?


    Lior: A bag stuck on a branch for over a year? What a wonderful symbiosis. I guess they’re in love. You see, here’s a bag that was set free and found its destiny.

  2. Razvan on

    that’s real poetry man, and I love it! you have eyes to see it, and that’s gets you closer to the essence of life.

    it is indeed a very bright answer for their union… the branch and the bag lived happily until the ends of times

    although…is the mouse in love with the trap? is the bird in love with the bullet that just left the barrel? is the pig in love with the knife, kept in the same hand that fed him, scratched him…

    Lior: I’m not sure a bullet hitting a bird can be considered a form of co-existence like the bag and the tree, nor the other examples you made. In these examples, one form destroys the other. I do agree there is something very intimate in that, but it’s not co-existence. The question remains, does the tree and the bag benefit each other or live on the expense of each other?

  3. Razvan on

    well, the 3 comparisons we’re done just for the sake of poetry, and as you said, there’s a sort of intimacy, like between the hunter and the hunt.

    it wasn’t to contradict you at all, but rather to complete of the poetry ideea and to challenge you further.

    so let’s the mistery do the thrilling job, like in the drawing from my blog – I’m not sure you notice it, you can see it if you scroll down – there’s a metaphysical question for the fish and for the bird, because each of them see something that is going (or coming) from nowhere, but in reality there’s a thin wire connecting their worlds.
    that’s a big love story in a small drawing.


    Lior: What a lovely drawing. We are all connected… I liked the kissing glasses too. You should patent that. Seriously

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