Bags of Bags
I was up in Aberdeen a couple weeks ago at the train station. A Vietnam Vet came and sat beside me on the bench out by the tracks. He wasn't going anywhere. He was among the crowd that tended to hang around there. An odd collection of day-drunks and so-called derelicts.
He was carrying a beat up Nike duffle inside a reusable burlap-ish grocery bag. He said he was delivering the bag to Melvin on behalf of his mother, who was either ancient or only existed in his damaged mind.
I asked him "Who's Melvin?
He replied, "You don't know him."
The bags were props that allowed him to sit, unquestioned at the station and drink his beer from an aluminum water bottle (another prop). The bottle had the name of some drug brand or health-care system on it.
His conversation let me know he was not what most people would describe as "well", but he had assembled all the props that he could muster to obscure his unwellness. He was aware enough to try blend in but maybe not quite "well" enough to pull it off.
Made me think about all the props that we carry around; all the things that only serve to manage the impressions that other people have of us.