Whenever I was forced to talk about what I did for a living, I often got strange looks from people. You’d have thought I told them I sold body bags, barf bags, or bags of pot. Regardless of how I defended myself to those who couldn’t wrap their mind around the idea of a guy selling purses, it always hit me hardest when I was out at a bar trying to score and the conversation got personal:

Hot Dude: “So, what do you do?”

Freeman: “I work in retail.” (I always tried to be truthful at first, but vague.)

Hot Dude: “Cool. Where do you work?”

Freeman: “Umm . . . at The Big Fancy.” (Here’s where I’d place my prayer request to God and beg to let the “what I do” question end there.)

Hot Dude: “Expensive store. What do you sell?" (Prayer request denied. God went straight to my shit list.)

Freeman: “Umm . . . handbags.”

Hot Dude: “What?” (They always said “what?” like I was speaking in tongues.)

Freeman: “Ladies’ handbags. You know, like purses.” (Humiliation ensued.)

Hot Dude: “You sell purses to women?” (Laughing. They always laughed.) “That’s fucking bizarre.”

Handbag emasculation complete.

My balls had shrunk to my neck, where they proceeded to choke me. (Handbags are not a topic of interest to a crowd of muscle men at a leather bar.) Technically, I should have been telling everyone I was a screenwriter -- and I did many times -- but what always went down after that was, “Have you been produced?” followed by me saying, “Not yet,” which usually led to the question, “What do you do for your day job?” And that would bring me back to dialogue that ended in handbag emasculation and ball shredding.

Tags: Books