A few weeks ago, my wife bought herself a new wallet. It was a carefully thought out plan, as she debated the various benefits of coin pockets, checkbook holders and the placement of card and bill slots. When she found the perfect wallet, the only flaw was the slender little loop that holds a pen. It’s not large enough to hold the chunky, foam encrusted pens that seem to be all the rage now.
I still have no idea why a woman’s wallet is so crucial to organizing her life. After all, isn’t that why they carry a purse? I’ve made social observations of woman’s purses and some of them are enormous. You can put a small child and an Easter ham in one, so why does the female wallet have to be such a carefully thought out device? There’s certainly enough room for a slightly obese pen in a purse.
On the male side of carrying things, all that men have is a wallet. Pretty much all of the same stuff has to be crammed into a tiny leather rectangle and shoved in a back pocket. My wallet is so thick, I feel like I’m sitting on a rock, and there is only fourteen dollars in there. I’ve tried to pare it down to just the essentials, but there’s still a lot of stuff to carry.
The bill compartment in my current wallet is divided in two, and on one half, there is the aforementioned fourteen dollars and on the back half, there are receipts that date back to well before Christmas. I also have a punch card from the place where I get my hair cut, and a Subway card that will someday earn me something free. I have no idea what that will be, but I haven’t been in a Subway in three years. In the various slots and compartments, there’s my driver’s license, my health care card, a library card, a few pictures, and various credit cards. I also carry an ATM card “just in case,” which I have never, ever used.
I can never remember in which slot or compartment something is stuffed, so every time I need something, I have to take everything out and shuffle through it all like an anxious croupier. Evidently my wallet also has some sort of evil device that deactivates the little strips on the backs of credit cards, which renders them completely useless. It’s as if these strips sense their proximity to my butt and nullify themselves out of protest. I think it’s an effort to be elevated to the businessman’s location of the inner breast jacket pocket. I personally don’t know anyone who carries his wallet in his jacket pocket, but it sure looks suave in the movies.
What I have is a back-aching rear pocket wedge that angles me like the Leaning Tower of Pisa when I’m seated or makes me appear as if I have some sort of gangrenous butt tumor when I’m not—and my wallet is small compared to some I’ve seen. I’ve seen men pull out wallets the size of a dictionary, crammed full of billfold detritus that dates back to high school.
Do you know what I need? I need a purse. You can butch it up any way you like – man bag, murse, messenger bag, satchel, tote or simply bag—but it’s still a purse. I just don’t have the nerve to make this accessory a part of my everyday life.
There are some things I wouldn’t mind carrying around with me on a regular basis, but I don’t want to load up my belt and pockets as if I’m Batman going on safari. A couple of Band-Aids or a Leatherman multi-tool could come in handy. My iPad would certainly be nice to have, or a book or a Kindle. A bar of some kind or a bag of nuts would be a welcome addition and maybe a small bottle of water to wash it down and a tin of Altoids to freshen up. I also have a small notebook that I always carry, along with a mechanical pencil. I could shove those in there too. I carry my phone in my front pocket, but sometimes that’s not comfortable. I’m sure there’s a place for a phone in one of these bags.
Why can’t I do this?
I have tool bags that have shoulder straps on them and that seems OK because it’s a practical way to carry drills and hand tools. My briefcase has a shoulder strap, and nobody gives me any grief about that. So I’ve pretty well established that this is just a phobia I have about the switch to a functional … um … whatever you want to call it for everyday use. In so many ways, it makes perfect sense.
I have a black nylon backpack with one padded ergonomic strap that I use when I travel and I love it because all my stuff fits in one easily accessible spot. I also swap out my regular fat wallet for an abridged, slimmer wallet with a clip to hold cash and just enough room for two credit cards. The whole thing fits discreetly in my front pocket. I feel so sleek and worldly when I pull out this small wallet with all life’s essentials for commerce boiled down to just a few things, yet if I need a street map or a snack, it’s right there in my shoulder bag. I’m the self-contained man for a week or two.
When I get home, I always think that I can adapt this system to my daily life, but it never pans out. I’m just not a hip, urbane, bag toting man. I’m a thick bump in my back pocket wallet toting man; one who has his keys clipped to his belt loop.
No, it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s just how it is. I’m sure a kilt with a sporran works out great for the traditional Scotsman, but pants and a wallet are the norm around here, and I’m just not the guy to break that trend. I’m just the guy with the big lump in his left rear pocket; a guy that has to ask his wife to carry his sunglasses in her gigantic purse because he has no other place to put them.
©Rick Garvia 2014. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Electronic or print reproduction, adaptation, or distribution without permission is prohibited.