Case 006: The Canvas Codefiled September 28, 2019
When it comes to same-sex baggage, the canvas tote is the G.O.A.T. (Gayest of All Time). Its sheer ubiquity renders it invisible to the average people-watcher, but the trained eye suspects there is more to this cloth accessory than its contents. The queer subtext conveyed by the simple tote and how it’s carried has long eluded researchers, but here at The InQueery we’ve mastered the art of reading too deeply into the purely practical. To that end, senior field investigaytor, Peter McGarry, embedded himself among the toters of our nation’s major metropolitan gayreas, tracking them from the bookstore to the brunch line, until at last the patterns began to emerge.
“It’s like the hanky code grew up and subscribed to too many magazines,” says McGarry. “These bags don’t just hold an unread copy of The Song of Achilles and half-eaten Rx bars. They carry layers of meaning that anyone can learn to see.” This strapping staple need not be white noise on your gaydar.
With our cutting-edge guide, you’ll know when their bagger swagger is saying “I’m a tee-totealer” or “Yes we canvas.”
The Carry Bradshaw – At once inviting and distancing, this hold is perfect for the toter starring in their own narrative. Generally characterized by a bend in the elbow where the bag dangles freely, this position acts as a counterweight to various props held in the slightly outstretched hand. A phone may indicate a life-altering FaceTime conversation or a breaking Insta story update on the new @kimpetras Halloween album. You may spot a paper-wrapped farmers market bouquet (ingenue), a walkman (dreamer), or an iced coffee* (warrior). Consider yourself welcome to initiate contact, but don’t expect to be anything more than a cameo in this carrier’s story.
*For an in-depth breakdown of Iced-Coffee holds please refer to The InQueery’s Sept 2nd case report
The Sleight of Hand – Variation in hand placement can signify critical differences in the carrier’s culture, attitude and ambulatory intentions. If the carry arm is gently dropped in front, it is safe to approach. If you see one hand raised to clutch the straps, this toter is poised to initiate warp speed—walking on a mission, with little regard for nearby lolligaggers. Do not disturb.
The Fairy Tale Fling – This carry’s distinct single-finger over-the-back hold can be traced back to the come-hither gesture made famous by witches & wood nymphs of yore, luring unsuspecting travelers from their paths. When paired with a casual glance over the shoulder, this carry is irresistible. By the time you’ve sniffed the poppers within the tote, the spell will be cast.
The Downward Drape – A rare, relaxed hold. Notable for the clean line of the bag, hanging from a loose arm and suspended just barely off of the ground. This carrier has found momentary inner peace, and is ready for a gentle encounter with you or another enlightened toter leaving their Kundalini class. Not to be confused with The Savasana Slump, an emergency hold in which the bag fully drags on the ground. This tote life can be hard, and baby, they just need a minute.
Addendum – The Branded Bag – Should you experience body language blindness, our quick-reference logo guide can help you cut to the chase.
The New Yorker – Fuck me; I read.
The Strand – Fuck me; I read *books*.
Bon Appetit – Wake up to breakfast.
NPR – Wake up to a clock radio.
Brooklinen – Easily influenced by advertising, but still worth the sleepover.
Our Conclusion: Why pay for a pro account when you can bag someone with a 99 cent Muji tote?
Queer Temperature: Twisting your ankle on cobblestone.