Monday, June 11, 2012
It took me a long time to find that wallet. I still remember that day three, maybe four years ago, as clearly as if it was yesterday. Absently trolling through the Marshall's bargain bin, I didn't choose my wallet, it chose me. Like a pound puppy.
I'm kind of particular about wallets. And keys. Anything I have to carry in my pockets really. Maybe it's my gay side trying to make sure my jeans look right. I'd rather have visible panty lines than obvious pocket protrusions.
But mostly when I think about pocket cargo, I think about my dad. If I have to share any traits with my father -- and everyone says I do -- it's definitely not going to be this one.
My dad always -- from my earliest memories of him to some of my last -- carried more keys than a janitor. And his keys had more rings than the Olympics. I can still picture him reaching into his pocket, fishing around for the rabbit's foot, and pulling out the endless chain of keys like a campy birthday clown performing a magic trick. I'm guessing there were at least fifty keys in his pocket at any given time. I can't imagine he even had that many locks.
He carried other things beside keys. There was the "lucky rock" he found in his youth on the shore of Lake Superior. A smooth shiny agate. I don't know if it was smooth and shiny when he found it, or if it turned that way after decades of tumbling in his pants. And always a cigarette lighter. Nothing as sentimental as the rock, just a disposable Bic. A swiss army knife. And a handful of things that served no obvious purpose, but that he knew he'd need the minute he threw them away.
In contrast, I carry the minimal about of keys I need for the current task at hand, adding or removing keys as necessary to the small flexible chain. (A metal keyring doesn't collapse right in the pocket.) I despise today's bulky electronic car keys.
And then there was Dad's wallet. More of a filing cabinet really. I still don't know how he could sit on that thing for so many years without suffering some sort of incapacitating back problem. But I don't think his generation took their posture as seriously as ours, bending over for semiannual scoliosis screenings like it was the gonorrhea of grades K-thru-8.
I don't carry photos in my wallet. (And really, who does anymore?) Any sort of photo album had better be removable, because it would go straight in the bin. And please, no zippers, hidden pockets or any other bulk-enhancing fanciness.
Wish me luck.