The Little Green Bag

George Baker – Little Green Bag

What’s my favourite toy?

I had too many toys as a child. I was the spoiled only child of two wealthy Narcissists who had many sycophants who paid homage to the child to curry favour with the parents. I did not want toys, I wanted love, but since love didn’t exist and toys did… I was a practical child, ashamed of having when others didn’t, and guilt ridden about not appreciating what I had by longing for what I didn’t have.

The little green bag…

It was not a bag, but it was little and green. It was a hard plastic suitcase which I bought… which my mother bought for me, as I was only about six years old… in Paris at a tiny hole in the wall travel shop. I think we were there to buy an umbrella, because the Paris sky has a je ne sais quoi nonchalance about it… it might rain, shrug, if you don’t want to get wet, then be prepared. Your problem, not the sky’s or Paris’.

I loved that suitcase. I slapped a few hippie flower stickers on it, it was the 70’s, and made it my own. It’s usual home was under my bed. It only was ‘played’ with when I had had enough of my parents and had decided that it was time for me to leave.

I would grab a couple of cans of Fanta Orangina, a few slices of pizza…

Not the kind which just popped into your head, not round, not topped with red and yellow gunk with green bits in it which is supposed to be tomato sauce and cheese with added herbs, but a version of focaccia which is flatter, saltier, herbier, oilier, and so delicious and addictive that I think it is now outlawed in Italy. It was oven cooked on huge square trays and cut into rectangular slices. You could get it with fresh tomato sauce topping, with a french fries topping, but my favourite was plain Pizza Bianca. I liked it fresh, but preferred it a few days stale and slightly hardened.

… and a couple of comic books.

I had a vast collection of comics books, all bought from a newsstand in Via Veneto in Rome which had international publications. I bought… again my mother bought them… a couple each time we visited the city, driving in from our villa along the very bumpy Appia Antica, past the Romanian gypsies begging and cursing drivers who stopped at the traffic lights near one of the old Roman gates.

Now I’m going to tell you something which may make you believe that I am, like the colour of my hair – red – would infer in folklore, the spawn of the Devil, if you are a comic book worshipper. I burned my entire collection of comics, which may have numbered in the thousands, in the buca – a furnace which was a hole in the ground with a rusted metal hatch where things got burned at high heat. Don’t worry though, most of the comic books were already damaged, eaten by mice in the attic where they were stored as my bedroom, which doubled as my mother’s walk-in closet… the clothes were there first, I came later… was too small for anything other than a bed, and they were read and reread until they fell apart, held together by stains from eating oily pizza while reading. And they were mostly Donald Duck, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie RIch and Archie comics… I wasn’t into Super Heroes.

Still think I’m the Devil’s spawn for burning the comics? My Barbie dolls would agree. They were tortured a lot. It was part of the very elaborate stories I cast them in. Blame Ken, he was a perverted sex maniac. My mother warned my father about leaving his collection of Playboy and Penthouse around for me to browse. He didn’t leave them for me to browse deliberately, I just knew where they were stored and chose to browse them. They apparently warped my mind, nothing to do with my parents and their Narcissism.

And so… the little green suitcase… how I loved it! It was my refuge and my saviour! I would pack it, then head out of the villa, up the long and roughly cobbled drive to the bespoke wrought iron gates. I would stand at the gates with my small sweaty hand clutching the handle of my suitcase looking out at the road beyond…

I never ran away. I was an old, wise enough, and cynical soul trapped inside a child. I knew that I would not get very far if I opened the gate and walked out and away. Sure it would take a while for my parents to notice I was missing, perhaps a few days, but I would be found, probably by a good interfering Samaritan before my parents knew what had happened, and returned to my hell on earth. You can’t escape your life.

I would stand at that gate for what seemed like eternity, fantasising about a life I would never have, never know, then I would turn away, back to hell, with a slight detour to my play area in the down below garden. Sit on my swing. That was a great swing! When you pushed it as high as it would go, it took you far away into kingdoms of the imagination. I would open my suitcase, eat some pizza, drink some Orangina, and read a comic book…

That little green suitcase… well it went the way of all of my toys during one of my mother’s many tantrums. She used to gather up my things and give them away to the local orphanage. Made sense to me, it was just a bit drastic the way it happened, but I got used to the drama.

It stayed with me though, I have a little green suitcase in my mind, where I keep treasures no one will ever find. It’s packed and ready to go…