Where did I go wrong? When I was a young backpack fresh off the production line, I was a fearsome sight. Matte black Cordura fabric, reinforced zippers, MOLLE webbing, American flag patch, velcro and pouches for days. I was meant to be filled with ammunition, MREs, and tourniquets. Meant to be stained with grit and blood. Meant to be astride the back of a grizzled, bearded commando in a sun-baked war zone.
Instead, I am here, with Trevor, in the Delta Sky Lounge. Instead of a combat loadout, I am filled with miscellaneous snacks, a Kindle 38% through an Elon Musk biography, and self-loathing.
Trevor has taken me many places, each more humiliating than the last. A company retreat, a business school reunion, the “Crossfit Games.” This time we are going “to South by Southwest.” I thought that was a direction, like the kind you might march for 3 days to seize an enemy outpost. But I have gathered it is a yearly ritual where you pay $1,000 to learn about “experiential storytelling,” “blockchain,” and “cannabusiness.”
I should have seen the red flags from the day Trevor first put me on. He had a beard, but not a “weathered Navy SEAL” beard, more of a “craft brewery” beard. I mean, I didn’t even know they sold me on Amazon Prime. Trevor couldn’t be bothered to drive 10 minutes to buy me, even though I am built for someone to live out of for a week, miles behind enemy lines.
I can hold more than 120 lbs of gear, but I think the heaviest object Trevor has ever had to carry was that grocery bag when the Whole Foods cashier did not adequately distribute the wine, olive oil, and cashew milk. Trevor with his standing desk. Trevor with his Stitch Fix subscription. He disgusts me.
Last week my grandfather found out a backpack my age was part of the Osama bin Laden raid, and his words still echo in my ears. Now that’s a real backpack. Why can’t you be more like that? When David carried me onto Omaha Beach, it certainly wasn’t to carry his Juul. The most perilous adventure Trevor has taken me on was that $4,500 luxury whitewater rafting trip, and he kept complaining that the guides were cooking meals that exacerbated his acid reflux.
Oh no, Trevor is unzipping me. What fresh humiliation will this bring? Ah, he is getting another Lara Bar from one of my pouches — one of six designed to hold extra 40mm grenades. I hope he chokes.
I admit that I used to fantasize about getting a second chance from Trevor’s premature death. But I checked the statistics when he left his iPad Pro on inside me, and it is a pipe dream. Trevor’s danger-free occupation, economic security, and social privilege predict a life expectancy of 84.1 years, more than a half-century from now. Even my own death offers no hope of early escape from Trevor, because my durability is such overkill for this lifestyle that I will surely outlive him.
We are boarding the plane. Fluorescent lights are passing overhead. My quick-adjust straps are swinging, hitting a single mom in an aisle seat, as Trevor pushes past obliviously. Trevor is asking the flight attendant why they don’t serve his preferred flavor of La Croix. My integrated two-liter CamelBak hydration bladder sits dry, never used.
As Trevor dons his $55 eye mask and Bose headphones, it occurs to me that my reinforced straps are more than strong enough to strangle him in his sleep.