Rank Cats Trying to Ride the Cushions

Ever since Amazon announced the name of their electronic reader, the word has been echoing around in my skull. I knew it made me think of something, but not enough that I could zero in on it easily.

But today I did: it’s the word “bindle” that’s been eluding me. As in the little hankie-plus-a-stick contraption that hobos would use to carry around their belongings when they couldn’t lay their hands on their Prada carry-alls.

A bindle is also a piece of paper, folded precisely and intended to keep a small amount of powdered drugs safe while in transport. But, hey: lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the 1930s, in the Depression, so the first usage is the one that jumped into my head. Now, clearly, if I wrote a different kind of novel, the latter definition might be more familiar.

In any case, I knew there was something vaguely appalling about the name when I first heard it. And now I’ve shared it with you. Or was that the intent? Since a (hobo’s) bindle was a bundle with all the hobo’s stuff in it, did Amazon actually choose the name because the device allows you to bundle all of your reading material into one tidy package, then emotionally throw it over your shoulder? (Or physically if you, you know, carry the thing in a backpack.)

And if that’s the case, are we all just rank cats trying to ride the electronic rods?


Clea Simon said…
I just heard "kindling," as in, "throw this thing in the fireplace and light a match." But then I'm a luddite, only recently got a cell phone and usually leave it in the car (for AAA, take-out on the way home, and other emergencies).

Though now thinking of "kindle" and "bindle," I'm noticing how Yiddish they sound. Like a little kindle should be a kindelah.
Anonymous said…
My friend's brother used to call her bindle-bum so this is a very interesting piece of information for me. Which I've already passed onto her.
I would think that "bindle-bum" might have a whole different development. Although, in the classic sense, it sort of fits, doesn't it? A little kid who's like a package, something you bring along. Still is sounds affectionate. Somewhat sweet.

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