Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone bought me a wallet as a shoddy present. Birthday, Christmas or otherwise, it is an unsolved mystery why people are always giving me wallets. Seriously, in the last seven years alone, I have opened five presents that I initially thought were DVDs only to find the unsettling sight and smell of cheap leather and child labor-grade leatherworking.

I have actually worked the numbers, too. I don’t want you thinking that I am just throwing out numbers here. On any given special occasion where a wrapped present is traditionally given, I stand an 18 percent chance of adding yet another wallet to the wallet pile in my underwear drawer.

When people like my mother repeatedly ask, “So what do you want for your birthday?” I am quick to whisper to them, “Anything but a wallet.” But alas, my wallet warning is oftentimes in vain because people continue buying them for me. And I can’t even begin to describe how aggravating it is to receive a wallet from someone who three days earlier I told specifically not to buy me one. Like my mother, who has been known to buy a wallet or two (or 12) in her day.

The worst part of it is, I am only 31. If I live to be 90, and my calculations are correct, I will have amassed quite an impressive number of wallets by that time. Unfortunately, those very same calculations also forecast that by age 91 I will die when — in a freak wallet-stacking frenzy — I am crushed in a leathery avalanche of brand-new wallets.

Fatal wallet avalanches aside, I suppose I could start using at least one of them. Problem is, I already have had an awesome wallet for some time now. I have used the same wallet for going on 21 years. That means my wallet and I can go out and enjoy some brewskies together legally this year, even though we have been doing that together for the past decade. But don’t tell anybody that.

My pathetic, decades-old Velcro wallet once belonged to my late grandfather. Back then, the canvas wallet possessed a reddish hue with a complementing white border. Now it’s just a black wallet with a black border, all of which is ripe with grime and a thin coat of gunk. The Velcro, if it ever worked properly, is now like trying to stick two rocks together. And for some mysterious reason, my “Made in Taiwan” wallet always feels damp with no logical explanation. I might not know the criteria for deciding when to use a new wallet, but I like to think that off-the-charts moisture retention is one of the warning signs.

And in general fairness to my wallet, I do suppose it is time to give up the ghost. I don’t know what sins my wallet committed in its past life, but nothing deserves being nestled away in direct proximity to a guy’s right cheek for more than two decades with only a thin layer of deteriorating fabric for protection.

Not to mention all of this wallet-giving is beginning to make me out to be the bad guy. When wallet gift givers learn that I am still using the same old one, they feel disenfranchised as a gift giver. I never thought my wallet would create so much grief in the lives of others. Telling them things like, “If it’s any consolation, it makes for a great makeshift beer coaster,” never seems to amuse these folks.

I hardly carry cash on me anyway, opting to customarily use my magical bank card — so I don’t really even need one wallet, much less several. And even if I did carry cash — and had lots of cash to carry (it should be obvious that I don’t) — I don’t think it would necessitate the need for a new wallet, much less a small battalion of them at my disposal. After all, it is not like the three dollars I have in there are working my wallet double time or causing it to bust at the seams.

So while a fool and his money are soon parted, the same doesn’t go for a moron and his mysteriously wet wallet. But one thing is for sure: my wallet has withstood the tests of time. I have sure gotten my money’s worth out of it.


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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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