1581. Dopp kit, sponge bag, toilet bag
© Bruce Goodman 4 August 2019

Half the problem of being a writer of international fame in the English-speaking world is the limitation placed on vocabulary. Merton wanted to write a story involving a sponge bag. But would the readers know that a sponge bag was the same as a toilet bag? Or what if, after searching online, he discovered that some people call it a Dopp kit?

Whatever it is called, Merton was determined to tell his story, so he called it a sponge bag, because that’s what he’d grown up knowing it as.

Kathryn’s family was rich. Well, not rich exactly, but comfortable. They never had to think more than twice before something was purchased. A replacement mattress for a queen-sized bed might be pricey but it was always affordable when such a thing was required. Kathryn was sent to a private school for girls. It wasn’t cheap by any means. In fact, it was possibly the most exclusive girls’ school this side of the Mississippi.

When it came to “having things” at the school, Kathryn had nothing but the best; the best clothes, the best luggage, the best school bag, the best sponge bag. In the mornings, when she went to clean her teeth and wash her face, her exquisite sponge bag was sometimes stared at by the other girls. It had prints of lavender on the sides, with a silver-coloured zipper at the top, and a little mirror when it opened. Yes, indeed. Kathryn’s mother had guessed right when she said (part jokingly of course) that the sight of a sponge bag first thing in the morning establishes ones social standing firmly in the minds of others for the rest of the day. In fact, possibly not because of the sponge bag but because of the confidence it instilled into Kathryn, she was elected to be the one to give the speech on the teacher’s birthday.

Even though the school cost a pretty penny they accepted three girls from poor families free of charge to alleviate their conscience for overcharging everyone else. Margaret was one such girl.

Margaret’s mother had sewn together a sponge bag for her daughter. To be honest, it wasn’t much. It was fabric with little hearts on it, and lined with plastic. A drawstring took the place of a zip, and it didn’t have a mirror. Margaret kept her toothbrush and toothpaste and other things in there. It served her well enough.

All that sponge bag stuff was years ago. Time waits for no one. Kathryn’s sponge bag has long gone. She lives in a comfortable walled-estate known as Meadowlark, and sends her daughter to the most exclusive school for girls this side of the Mississippi.

Margaret on the other hand lives in an unbelievably beautiful mansion. She has three children, a gardener, several cars, and everything else. She made her fortune making and selling sponge bags with little hearts on them, and lined with plastic. A drawstring takes the place of a zipper, and it doesn’t have a mirror. It's the type of sponge bag that most people purchase because it is pretty even though such things don’t really matter.

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