I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I thought I loathed it as a kid, but…you know what? – I miss the Boy Scouts, because as an adult I realize that scouting made me better.
When I was in ninth grade, my
mom bribed me to achieve the highest rank in Boy Scouts: Eagle. It was
contingency-based bribery where I got a stereo at Christmas (one of those big
box ones that included CD player, dual tape deck, radio AND record player on
top) but said, “But I’ll take this back
if you don’t earn Eagle by the end of the year.”
But a far greater motivation was getting out of scouts to reclaim my cool, since at the time, it was not the case that scouting made me better; it tortured me.
I was far too obsessed with being cool in school, desperate to eschew any sense that I was “less than” – (which largely meant gay. Yeah – that was my fear – that I’d be called “fag” or “pansy” or whatever label that essentially meant “less than.”)
And being cool or at the top of the social food chain meant I wouldn’t be considered “less than”.
Being a Boy Scout was not cool – especially in junior high and ESPECIALLY in high school. And that was what I hated about being a Boy Scout. Sadly.
In my suburban Denver scout troop, we didn’t have some conservative religiously-veiled dogma. There was no cultural preaching. There was just an over-arching sense of Scouts doing “good” and the difference between right and wrong. And I found a niche within my troop that ultimately meant scouting made me better at being me.
It wasn’t a troop full of toxic masculinity in the slightest.
Tons of my favorite childhood memories were made through scouting: camp-outs (which I thought I hated, but in reality were really fun), camp (not over-flowing with with toxic masculinity and generally care-free), and a consistent community of quality guys that got together weekly to…I can’t even remember now…have meetings and…talk about stuff?
Put all these things together and I learned not to be afriad of nature, leadership, and random skills most of which I’ve forgotten but actually gave me tremendously broad experience. Further, scouting made me better at poker, shit-talking, late-night conversations and a certain amount of political arguing. Again: thanks to camping.
The Boy Scout values are, in my adult hindsight, invaluable. I paid little attention to the Scout law or the substance of the words that we recited at every turn:
A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.
(I typed that without google help – it’s still ingrained in my muscle memory.)
And when I occasionally think on the significance of those words, what better brain-washing to give a kid, eh? Think about each one of those values.
What more could we ask for of ourselves, of society, and of our children?
But when I said “we will roast hot dogs over a fire”, they were IN.
We kayaked forty-five minutes on the Connecticut River to pitch a tent in a clearing on an uninhabited island.
Honestly, it wasn’t hard-core at all. We built a fire, roasted hot dogs and ate M&M’s, hiked for twenty minutes (all the while me thinking TICKS TICKS TICKS TICKS), while I sipped a thermos of Moscow Mules.
But I know this is unthinkable for most people. Scouting made me better at thinking “Come on! Let’s just do it! It’s not rocket science. Pack a bag of M&M’s and let’s camp!”
I bored my kids with my “when I was a kid this was SO much harder” routine as I reminisced about the shitty camping equipment I was forced to use. Trust: military quilted sleeping bags and tents from the 70’s were NOT user-friendly, durable, warm, compact or lightweight.
At the little campground with my kids, I was all about “yes” and not setting limits. They explored, they dug around, broke sticks, and poked around in the fire. I had no reason to say “no” (the Moscow Mule helped).
At one point, my younger kid looked guilty as he made the fire flare up after tossing a pile of dried leaves on top. But I said, “It’s OK, buddy. I want you to learn about fire’s behavior. Plus, I get it. It’s fun to poke around.”
Isn’t poking around in a fire the best part about camping? (Scouting made me better at s’mores, too. Obvi.)
I mean – no forest fire are
going to start in humid-ass Connecticut. And if our fire had sparked, I was
prepared to quickly stamp it out.
This is all part of it – experimenting, pushing limits and learning.
I didn’t bring Swiss army
knives or even an axe (the fallen wood for fire-building was plentiful…and we
will carve wood next summer.)
But I gave them the flavor of camping. And they liked it!
(My 40yo+ body was not a huge fan. My neck and back were seriously creaky, afterward. For summer 2020: get a blow-up pillow.)
But this has all made me think my kids are missing out on these experiences I took for granted (nay: supposedly loathed). My friends found it such a big deal that I was camping, and despite being a gay tap-dancer, I wasn’t remotely intimidated to strike out on this mini-adventure. It’s in my educational background to know camping ain’t that big a deal (particularly when the weather’s perfect and you’re only 30 minutes from home) and nature is meant to be experienced.
Of course I’m looking past the conservative religious hijacking of Boy Scout culture, their leadership largely being old, conservative men, and their tumultuous history with the queer community. Let’s face it – they’ve adapted pretty amazingly DESPITE their leadership and strong rooting in conservative communities. And they’re coming out on the right side of history by including girls in the ranks and embracing children through the the queer community .
So anyway, now that my kids are growing up in NYC, I feel like they’re at the ripe age for having SOME KIND of value-laden extracurricular education.
I wish there were someone else lecturing them on the difference between right and wrong (besides me) and giving them survival skills (besides me).
When that internet apocalypse comes, the Russians hack all our phones and Trump’s tariffs stop all imports from China, all hell will break loose. And suddenly tying knots might actually be super helpful – not to mention reading a map, using a compass, and not fearing nature.
There are several NYC-based
Scout troops (most of them affiliated with Catholic Churches), but none of them
are convenient for us. (And by “convenient”, of course I mean within a
ten-minute walk of our apartment.)
Wouldn’t it be awesome to
start an inclusive troop at the LGBTQ Center on 12th Street? – ground
zero for the gay rights movement?
I love the irony.
And hopefully so would the
But this is not a manifesto
for me starting my own Scout Troop. I’ve got bags to sell.
During a recent conversation with parents about potty training kids to poop healthily, a friend of mine stated unequivocally, “Pooping in the ocean is the best.”
Meaning: when they are at the beach, they have no problem
just letting a turd slide out and float away.
I thought, “Really? It’s that easy? And don’t you think
that, even in the ocean, that’s pretty disgusting and a turd could float next
to a child who’s playing in the surf and they could ingest that shit?”
Then again, I get the curiosity…. you’re on a hike on the
NaPali Coast of Kauai and there is literally not a soul around you and you’re
on a gorgeous beach all to yourself and you might or might not be clothed and
you’re like, “Hm. I wonder what it would be like if…”
Not that I would know.
This all makes me think that we, as a society, are far too preoccupied with our bathroom habits. I mean – don’t get me wrong, I don’t want someone else’s poop floating past me. Ever.
But as a parent, I’ve had a lot of poop on my hands; and I
A couple of years ago, I had my kids in France visiting
family. We were at a playground and I had with me my own two kids and my niece.
Seconds after our arrival (and certainly after I’d said “before we got to the playground, anyone need to poo?), my older kid approaches saying, “Daddy? I need to go.”
Me: well, go behind the bush.
Kid 1: No…I need to poo.
So I grabbed my kiddo’s hand and we jogged over to public toilets that strike fear into the hearts of Americans – just two foot prints in the middle of a porcelain square with a hole in the middle. The French call them “Turkish toilets”, which I’m pretty sure is tremendously derogatory and not one that immigrated with the “technology” of a squat-and-hole. Oh, well.)
Anyway, yeah: a squat-over-the-hole-and-go.
Luckily, my kid wasn’t remotely fazed. When you gotta go…
So I hiked up her dress and watched as she squatted all the way down (surprisingly easily), one hand holding the dress, one hand paranoiacally on a questionably-dirty porcelain wall. She relaxed and went.
Phew. Crisis averted.
Then I looked around for toilet paper.
None to be round. Zero. Nope. No toilet paper.
Only after this visit to the squat-over-a-hole-and-go did I learn these Turkish toilets are meant to be a clean drop. Even in diarrheal emergencies, it’s how our bodies were designed, you don’t really need to wipe, and it’s how we should be pooping all the time, anyway. The toilet (most likely an invention by European royalty to separate us from the “savages” have resulted in generations of IBS, colon cancer, and hemorrhoids. We really just need to squat in the woods and go, like our ancestors.)
No toilet paper necessary.
But I digress.
So I’m looking around for toilet paper and see nothing. In
desperation, I searched in a trash can to see if there’s something, ANYTHING I can use.
My kid’s yelling at me from the toilet, still hovering.
I’m in a flop sweat frantically searching for anything for
I walk into the toilet and reach over to wipe my kid’s bare
It was completely clean (see aforementioned discussion of
A second sweep for good measure (still nothing), at which
point slow-motion set in:
I felt a movement in the breast pocket of my button-down shirt
as I slowly felt my Ray-Bans fall…
…out of my shirt…
…and straight toward the 4-inch Turkish hole of French poop.
One hand was wiping, the, the other hand steadying myself
against the wall, and I’m literally bent over my child who’s squatting under
me. The probability of a disaster where I fall on top of her and we both end up
sitting in a (remarkably clean) 3’x3’ porcelain basin that catches poop AND
pee, was high.
I couldn’t catch my glasses.
They fell out, circled the hole like those
quarters–in-a-spiral-thingy at museums, and plopped.
Into my kid’s poop.
And you bet your sweet ass I got my kid safely out of the
way and re-robed, and then I figured, “I already have one hand dirty,” and
reached into the hold and got my glasses.
They were shitty, for sure, but just a little bit. I washed
them at the sink, nearby (that didn’t have paper towels. Because of course it
didn’t) and, well…put them back in my pocket.
Fear not – I wasn’t going to wear them, and the shirt needed
That was a lot.
I happened to be at the playground with a friend (a French dad) and I asked him about the toilet paper situation, and he said, “Well, Gavin, that’s why French parents carry this.”
He pulled out Kleenex from his denim jacket.
Mind you, it was summer, hot as balls, and this guy wore a jacket to the playground. Because that’s how you do it in France. Shorts aren’t fashionable – it’s just the Germans who would wear shorts in public (along with their Birkenstocks and socks.) And you bring a jacket. Just in case. Or at least a scarf.
(And mind you – I love French scarf culture. We need to
adopt that, America. Do you realize how effective it is just to wear a scarf in the fall and spring? No jacket necessary.)
Seconds later, my younger kid told me he needed to poop.
I exchange a look with French dad friend, he hands me his
Kleenex, and away we go.
Second kid also needs to poop badly. And he’s never done a Turkish toilet, either. We run up, he squats, balances, all’s fine, no biggie. Funny how, in the moment, apparently potty training kids to poop healthily won’t stop them from squatting, like this. When you gotta go…
And thank goodness I won’t have to sully my hands, again.
So I’m soon to be royal-adjacent and I’m counting on taking selfies with Royals.
Last January, I received an email saying, “We’d like to schedule a five minute private call with you about the upcoming royal birth.”
My first thought was “Is this my long-lost cousin writing from a jail in Nairobi and needing $38,000 to get out?”
But, hey – I’m game. “I’m all ears.”
The woman explained she was calling from St. Jame’s House, a London Publishing Company, that publishes fancy coffee table books highlighting big British events like the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, royal weddings, and the 100th anniversary of Rolls Royce.
They were in the process of gathering “patrons” to be featured in the upcoming book, Our Royal Baby, to be launched after the christening of as-yet-unborn Archie, the child of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. And they wanted to feature, well…the best and/or coolest diaper bag for men.
As a “patron”, I’d be featured in this book as an “exciting new company on-brand with this Modern Royal Couple.”
In the words of my deceased grandfather, “If I had dentures, I’d have lost them.”
Mr. Robert Jobson, “the godfather of royal reporting” and official biographer to Prince Charles, would interview me and write the feature on my company.
In addition, I’d receive an invitation to the royal christening and an invitation to attend the book launch in London at the Ritz Hotel.
(Non sequitor: should I be capitalizing “Royal” and “Christening”? Golly gee whiz I’m such an American un-versed in R/royal etiquette.)
After picking up my jaw (or dentures) from the ground, I asked, “Well, this is astounding. How on earth did you find me? And will I be able to take selfies with Royals?”
The woman laughed and said “We have researchers constantly seeking innovative and stylish companies appealing to a royal sensibility.”
Aw, shucks. I’m blushing. I mean – I may not be selling tons of bags, but…
…apparently I’m doing something right? (Notice my desperation.)
“I mean, this is crazy. I can say the ultimate dream would be for Prince Harry to carry my bag.”
“Well, we can make that
happen,” my contact said, “though there’s no guarantee he would be photographed
with it. But Mr. Jobson can personally give a bag to the Prince.”
Yo – Sign. Me. Dafuq. Up.
So, skipping over lots of banal details about contracts, I became part of the Our Royal Baby team.
As weeks and months passed trading messages about new photography and editing copy, I felt like the people in the charming novel, 84 Charing Cross Road, in which an informal American book collector strikes up a written friendship with a formal British antique book seller. His Britishisms contrast hilariously with the American’s, well…American-ness.
Point being – I’m the crazy, informal American and I’m certain my new British friend, Dhruti, must look at my emails and think, “This chap is off his rocker.”
Moving along, over the summer, Megs and Harry held the christening of wee Archie with zero fanfare. (I guess St. James’s House hoped to invite me to London around that time. Did I harbor illusions of taking that desired selfie with Royals? Absolutely. But I suppose an “invitation” meant a literal paper document for framing.)
So St. James scheduled our book launch at the Ritz for just after Labor Day – because that’s convenient (except for un-cultured Americans. Eye roll.)
In the spring – several photo shoots took place. I was going for a uniquely New York scene in which I’m carrying the diaper bag and holding a (borrowed) baby. (Shout out to Adam’s photographic genius and Ashley loaning me her baby.)
Charmingly, before taking this picture (at left), I noticed a guy pause at the green pipe over my shoulder and stick something inside. Minutes later, as I was posing with little “borrowed baby”, another dude lingered down the road. I could sense we were in his way. It wasn’t hard to realize he was waiting to pick up from the green pipe behind us.
So…pretty much we did a fashion shoot in the midst of a drug deal.
(Ultimately, Dhruti passed on that pict. Clearly it wasn’t “on brand” for the royal couple. Oh, well. It was on brand for NYC.)
In other news, I had dubbed the bag “The Frenchie” because the blue/red racing stripes reminded me of the French flag. But then I figured “Frenchie” probably was not on brand with the Royals, so it was re-dubbed “The Windsor.”
Months passed, designs and wording of the editorial page were finalized, and I spent the summer hemming and hawing over whether to attend the party at the Ritz.
Finally, I figured, “I’m most likely going to come back utterly empty-handed. But I’ve invested this much, and I have the AmEx miles for a free trip. This seems like exactly the right frivolous trip on which to cash in.”
So: I’m here. In London.
Ready to be Royal-adjacent.
Not holding my breath for taking selfies with Royals, Megs and Harry.
Am I titling this “The Best (and/or Coolest) Diaper Bag for Dads” and including terms like “cool” and “stylish” within the first sentence to maximize my SEO in a way that makes me seem like I know what “maximizing SEO” means?
However, I’m serious – this is the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for cool dads and stylish dads.
Amanda Kloots thinks so, and she can do like five-minute-long planks:
Additionally, these folks at TTPM? They’re like deadly serious and they think the bag rocks.
So in addition to these highly-scientific endorsements, and the fact that you’re a new parent, there’s no reason you need to compromise your sense of style. It’ll help your entire parenting mojo.
Just like fashion: it’s all attitude.
Perhaps you feel like rocking a cowboy hat walking down Madison Avenue? Just own it and love yourself for it.
Or maybe it’s your jam to sport pink platform boots with googley eyes on Main Street, (or in this case 28th Street), then dude: werq it.
And the ECKnox Carryall diaper bag is a bag new dads (and
moms!) can rock with confidence and attitude.
However, “ECKnox Carryall diaper bag” – that’s a mouth full, isn’t it? I gotta get my team on that.
Quick sidebar with the team:
Me: Hey, Team!
The Voices in My Head: Yeah?
Me: Can we simplify the name?
Me: How about just ‘diaper bag’?
TVIMH: But then that might limit your commercial reach.
Me: Perhaps, but…
TVIMH: Or men might think “dudes don’t carry diaper bags”.
Me: Eh, it’s 2019. Plus, that perspective of uninvolved dads is what I’m trying to change.
TVIMH: And also, you can remove the liner of your bag and it becomes a cool messenger bag for when parents have outgrown diapers.
TVIMH: And isn’t that one of the selling points that justify the price of your bag?
TVIMH: That and the fact that it’s a complicated bag with lots of features and super slick styling and high quality nylon and leather detailing that jacks the price up, too?
Me: Do we really need to highlight the pricing, here?
TVIMH: Just stating the obvious from the voices in your head. Apparently you have insecurities you need to work out. That’s on you, dude.
When I was expecting my first kid, I wanted a slick, masculine diaper bag that announced, “I’m proud to be a new dad and I want to look good being that dad.” But in all my research, I couldn’t find such a bag.
I thought about it for another year, had another kid, and but still was confounded that such a bag didn’t exist.
So I set out to make it, myself – a bag with sophistication, super functionality, and timeless styling.
Something that made people say, “Wow. Nice bag. I wonder what it is? Oh, wait a minute! That’s that designer diaper bag for dads. Ohhhh…he’s a new dad! Ahhhh.”
And all hearts would melt on the subway/playground/street/hottest-new-brunch-restaurant-in-the-trendiest-neighborhood.
(Lucky for you, I wrote about my journey here and here but also here and moreover here.)
Do I harbor the illusion that men are going to flock to buy bags for themselves? In some cases, yes. But don’t worry, I’m not delusional – this bag is branded for men and marketed to the women who will be 70% of the purchasers.
Why’s this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for stylish dads?
Form and function.
This is the best diaper bag for dads because it has 14
How can you go wrong? This is also the best diaper bag for dads because two of those pockets are for bottles and it’s REALLY the best diaper bag for dads because one of those bottle holders accommodates a bottle of wine for those particularly tough days on the playground. (Might want to get your own paper bag to protect your assets while drinking in a playground, though.)
This is the best diaper bag for dads because there are frequently no changing stations in men’s rooms.
So I made it the best diaper bag for dads because there’s a zip-open changing station for those times there’s no changing station in the restroom. However, there might be times you can’t be bothered to leave the playground; in which case you wanna show your parenting badassery by changing your kid’s diaper on the playground like a BOSS (who’s not overly freaked out about germs. Because kids are petri dishes. Make peace with the germs. It builds character and resilience and immunity.)
This is the best diaper bag for dads because there’s a
padded laptop sleeve.
Not only is there a laptop sleeve that makes this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads, but there are also three sleeves in which you can stow wallets, phones, pens, sunglasses and those quick-access things you just don’t feel like carrying in your pockets (cuz your ass looks better in your pants when you aren’t carrying bulky things. More on that at another time.)
The best diaper bag for dads has mesh pockets inside the
liner so you can organize how you want, but see what’s in the pocket.
The coolest diaper bag for dads would have to be easy to clean, so we made it that way. The liner is removable with a hidden zipper. That way, you can wash the liner and even replace it (INSERT LINK FOR NEW LINERS, HERE. OOPS – however I need first to design and manufacture replaceable liners and THEN insert the link for purchase).
Furthermore, what REALLY makes this the best diaper bag for dads is once the liner is removed, there’s an inner liner that’s slick and black and professional, so you can continue to use the bag for years as a messenger bag after you’re done with the diapering.
You can also quickly convert the bag to a backpack (which many bags can do, but they aren’t the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads.)
Finally (and seriously, y’all…this is my favorite feature) what makes this the best (and/or coolest) diaper bag for dads is the instant access to wet wipes.
Through an interior pocket open with a magnetized flap, you can be friggin’ Oprah on the playground.
You want a wet wipe? Boom. Here ya go.
Need a wet wipe? Boom. Here, Daddy.
Ahhhh…forgot your wet wipes? Boom. Here ya go, Mommy.
You definitely need a wet wipe, snot-nosed kid whose mom is buried in her phone and isn’t paying attention to the fact that her kid is wiping snot and kid pink eye all over the monkey bars.
Oh, and you need a wet wipe, son. Yes, you do, kid. Come here. Please come here, now. Right here to Daddy. Come, right – Junior? Come here right now and make Daddy look good so the other parents on the playground don’t judge him for being just another helicopter parent whose kids don’t actually mind him at all. Junior? One. Two. Don’t make me get to three. Two and a half. Two and three quarters. Boom Here’s your wet wipe.
There ya have it, folks. The best and coolest diaper bag for dads.
And in no way is this bag just meant for dads. All my girlfriends say “why would you only make this for dads? I’d totally carry this. I never liked my stupid pink, puffy bag!”
Exactly, ladies. You’re invited, too. But I started the
company to cater to, well, me.
And I’m an only-child actor. So my needs come first.
Lemme sell a few bags, establish my brand, and bring a ton of other really cool things to market to expand into a lifestyle brand, and then this bag will be all about the gender-nonspecific stylish parenting.