“Is that a flask in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?” Mae West didn’t actually say that, but it sure sounds like she could have, and it would have sounded great. The sexy characters she played in her famous comedies of the 1930s would have almost certainly loved a flask-carrying “real man.” They wouldn’t have been alone.
It’s funny how a guy who carries around a half a pint of brandy in a paper bag is considered a low life, but when you put that same half pint in a silver flask, he suddenly becomes sophisticated. Okay, there’s a little more to it than that – the guy with the flask is often well-dressed and well-spoken, while the guy with the paper bag is dressed in a trench coat and mumbling to himself about pigeons, but that’s not really the point here.
The point is that a flask is generally believed to be an accessory for a real man; a powerful, sophisticated man who doesn’t care what you’re serving – he’s drinking what he wants. There are a number of reasons for this belief.
History of the Flask
The first flask was, in all likelihood, a coconut. Picture this, Grog the beach caveman is getting ready to move his family inland for hunting season, so he stockpiles coconuts, knowing that they can drink the milk until they find fresh water. His wife, Terggh, complains that she doesn’t like coconut milk, leaving Grog with a dilemma. He takes some coconuts, empties the milk, refills them with berry juice and brings them along, making his wife happy and making himself the first flask-carrying ladies’ man in human history.
Flasks were used again in the Middle Ages, this time from hollowed-out fruit. Later, pig bladders were used as flasks – but men learned quickly that they did not exactly make the ladies swoon when they pulled a pig bladder or hollowed-out orange out of their pants, so they moved onto something more impressive. By the 18th century, the flask existed in a form similar to what we have now, and it was carried by the gentry. It quickly became a status symbol.
The flask really became popular and experienced a few design changes in the 1920s, during Prohibition. With alcohol illegal in the United States, the only way to carry it was secretly, so flasks became smaller, more easily concealed, and often disguised as other objects. For ladies who enjoyed an occasional drink, finding a man with a flask became a major priority during Prohibition.
The Flask-Toting Hero in Film
If you ever watched any film noir movies, chances are you saw a flask-toting private detective beat the bad guys and get the girl. In fact, if the detective didn’t have a flask and use it fairly often, the movie probably wasn’t very good. The rugged hero would usually end up using his flask to toast the bad guy, taking one last drink before his apparent, impending demise, or maybe to throw at the bad guy to prevent said demise at the last possible second.
The Western was another genre wherein you could find a flask-toting hero. The dapper gunfighter tucks his flask into his breast pocket as he walks out into the town square to face his rival in a final showdown. Sometimes the flask itself is the hero, saving the gunslinger by taking the bullet that was intended for him. In the end, of course, the hero gets the girl, proving that women do love a real man with a flask, at least in film.
The Traveling Party
In the real world, of course, a real man is the sort of guy who parties hard, when and where he wants. Nothing embodies that attitude more than the flask. A man with a flask can take his favorite drink with him virtually anywhere he goes, which means that he can be the bartender – the guy who starts the party in the hotel room, at the barbecue, or at the tailgate party.
This kind of freedom is not lost on the ladies, either, especially when dating. When men and women get together for a first or second date, it’s natural to be uncomfortable. Historically, alcohol is the catalyst that brings the sexes together and allows them to converse coherently, or, in some cases, equally incoherently. A man with a flask can bring that catalyst along on that first date, wherever it may be, so that his lady friend has the option to “take the edge off” of what could be a stressful occasion.
The Flask as a Fashion Accessory
Let’s face it, flasks look good. Whether you have a shiny silver flask or a leather-wrapped one with studs and designs on it, pulling out a flask in a social setting can make you look and feel like an aristocrat. It is an accessory, as much as a watch, a cane, or a pair of glasses. Men who accessorize well look sharp and, as the song says, “Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man.”
The Message Behind the Flask
There is more to a flask than just a flashy appearance. It sends a very masculine message, too, that a man is not a teetotaler and that he’s a man of discriminating taste who will drink what he wants, when he wants. What woman isn’t impressed with that?
Flasks are popular, but not common. This means that seeing someone with a flask is still just a little unusual; unusual enough to make someone appear to be a bit of a rebel or bad boy. Some ladies really like bad boys.
It is probably accurate to say that real men love flasks; there’s certainly evidence to support that idea. It’s probably also fair to say that many women appreciate a real man with a flask. The bottom line – if a man loves the ladies, he might want to learn to love a flask as well. Even if it doesn’t work out with the ladies, the flask might at least help you in that next gunfight.