My wallet is falling apart. I am going to have to get a new one.
Chances are, if you are a woman, you feel happy for me. After all, you probably have several purses, and you would love to put down the newspaper right now and go out and get a new one. Not that you need a new purse, but those new shoes don't quite go with any of the other purses, do they?
You have a purse for when you wear red, or blue, or black. You have a purse for church, or shopping, or the beach. You even have a purse for when you fly on an airplane—that big one that could hold a dog and a grandkid if you weren't worried about irradiating them in the security scanner.
So if you are a woman and you heard that I needed a new wallet, you probably smiled and wished me luck in my shopping.
But if you are a man who heard that my wallet is dying, you gasped and shuddered in horror. Your hand strayed involuntarily to your back pocket to see if everything was alright back there.
Because although women own a different purse to match any occasion that might arise in this or any other parallel universe, we men would never consider letting our wallets outnumber our spleens.
For a man, your singular wallet goes with everything. Jeans and a T-shirt. Khakis and a sweater. Pinstripe suit and a vest. You slip it into your back pocket and head off for the ball game. Or the office. Or the opera. Or even the beach, where you'll tuck it into the toe of your shoe, because no thief would think to look for it there.
You had that wallet in your back pocket the last time you voted for president. And the president before that. And the one before that.
In your lifetime, you have owned more cars than wallets. If statistics are any guide, the average American man's wallet lasts longer than his marriage. No woman can claim that her purse outlasted her husband, unless her name is Kardashian.
So, guys, the next time the lady in your life dusts off her "typical man who can't commit" speech, reach back, pull out your wallet, and give it a long lingering kiss. It won't help you win the argument, but when her girlfriends ask her what ever happened to that jerk she was with, it'll give her a good story to tell.
I don't expect you ladies to understand. But when I say that my wallet is falling apart and that I will have to get a new one, your men will appreciate that I am going through a life-changing moment.
It is a nice, simple, black-leather bifold wallet, the kind that holds only the essentials that you might need to make it through the day. Two credit cards and a debit card. Driver license and auto insurance card. Health insurance card. Enough money to fill the tank if the credit cards go belly up. And that's about it. Maybe a half inch thick.
Oh, there was a time when my wallet was as hefty as a Big Mac. With it stuffed into my back pocket, I lurched down the sidewalk like the Hunchbutt of Notre Dame. But the advent of cell phones allowed me to strip my hindquarters of addresses, phone numbers, and photos of third cousins twice removed. Today I can program all of those things into my phone and leave my rump-pocket lean and clean—although I must admit that my cell phone holds more photos of trophy fish than of any human with whom I might share a DNA molecule.
But now my lean, clean wallet is dying. It is time for a new one.
When I do go out to buy a new wallet, it will be a solemn journey. I will slip it into my right rear pocket with a sad sigh.
My old wallet? I will not simply throw it into the trash. I never have.
In the back of my closet stands a fireproof metal strongbox that we originally bought to hold important documents, but we later decided to keep those records in a lockbox at the bank. As a result, my closet strongbox now contains items of no value to anybody but me. And among other things, inside that strongbox are the last four wallets I have owned, stretching back to my teen years.
I do not keep them purely for nostalgic reasons. That would be obsessive. Or compulsive. Or maybe both.
No, each of my old wallets has been given a task.
That psychedelic-colored wallet from the early 70's holds all my old ID cards—draft, college, NRA, library. Some of those organizations don't even exist anymore, but it's nice to know that I was once a charter member of them.
That old butt-buster leather trifold holds all the old photos of my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Some of them now have children of their own, and some of those photos are in that wallet, too.
That blue nylon Velcro-closure wallet holds every fishing license I have ever owned since I was 16. Without them, I would feel a bit creepy showing off all my fish pictures on my cell phone. A fish-photo boaster without certification is no different from an unmarried guy carrying around dozens of pictures of little kids, and there's a name for guys like that.
That tattered gray canvas wallet holds decades of business cards, because you never know when you might want your 8-track or beta player repaired.
In any case, soon I will have five wallets in that strongbox. I don't know what role I will assign to my current wallet when the time comes to retire it. All I know is that it must happen soon, because that old wallet is falling apart.
Soon I will be going shopping for a new wallet.
Rejoice for me, ladies.
Mourn for me, men.
- - -The author splits his time between Naples and Chicago. Not every day, though. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Why wait a whole week for your next visit to Planet Kerth? Get T.R.'s new book, Revenge of the Sardines, available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine online book distributors. His column will appear every Friday.