The Small Naked Drunk Man in the Bottom of My Bag

When my husband and I were footloose and fancy-free, we took a belated honeymoon to Italy. It was several years after we were married but no less sweet, and we embraced all the pleasures Italia had to offer. Not least of which were the ruins at the base of Mount Vesuvius, magnificently petrified in a violent hail of ashes and mud. We went to both Pompeii and Herculaneum, and because we were doing our best to shed American dollars to the tourist industry, we purchased a few doobobs and trinkets to bring back for the folks at home.

My personal favorite was a keychain of a statue unearthed in Herculaneum of the god Hercules. Apparently freshly returned from hunting (or playing cricket), his club is swung over one shoulder and he's got a nice animal skin to show for his prowess. The statue is remarkable for it's realism: you can practically smell the fumes of wine leaching from Herc's pores as he teeters back with his Johnson in his hand to take a whiz. He's been celebrating, it seems.

I loved it so much I bought a bunch of them and gave them away to slightly quizzical friends and family. I'm the only one who actually used Herc for a keychain; everyone else quietly tucked him away in the bottom of their junk drawers and promptly forgot that a god was taking a leak in them.

Hercules has been dangling drunkenly from my keys until a few months ago when his little metal ring broke and he began swimming unmoored amongst the receipts and lip balms in my handbag. Every now and then I find him, linty but no less loaded, and think about affixing him again to my lonely keys who miss the endless party. But I never do, and Hercules has been pissing unfettered in my purse ever since.

The Bun (our toddler) found him the other day. The boy has been entranced by the occult mysteries of "the handbag" of late, and I think that the discovery of my little drunk buddy didn't disappoint him in the inscrutability of the feminine purse. He held him reverently in his hands and turned him over and over again, looking at this little man peeing endlessly with sincere awe. I wondered how I would explain what he was doing there. Obviously too young to understand what being loaded is, I had no idea what he thought of him, my little idol to the carelessness of youth and revelry.

I suppose it doesn't matter. I just hope that three years from now when Herc is still floating around down there awash in those same receipts I've never chucked that the bun doesn't pick-pocket him and take him to school for show and tell.

Hercules used with permission