Two guys walking up Southwest Salmon Street were staring at me. Well, they weren't staring at me so much as at my bulge. "Did you see that?" said the greasy dude in a wife-beater. To which his mustachioed bud replied: "Man, I've never seen one that big." No, it wasn't that bulge. It was my wallet.
I am a packrat-cum-technophobe. I hate to throw anything away. And I fear downloading important numbers to electronic devices. My Andy Rooney-ish dilemma has manifested itself through my pants—I stuff everything in my wallet.
I carry a Buxton black leather men's billfold, given to me by my mother years ago. It's 5 inches high and 4 inches wide. It has seven sewn-in slits to which I've added eight more via a plastic insert. In it I carry everything from a Denny's gift card to my dog Oscar's "anal gland card," which gives him a free anal-sac expression the next time we go to the vet. It also includes a laminated version of the "Ten Commandments for Highway Safety," a dozen fortune-cookie fortunes, a Spanish calendar for 1991, more than 50 business cards, and hundreds of phone numbers written on yellow Post-It notes. On most days it has a girth of 11 inches around, is 4 inches wide and weighs in at 13.8 ounces, the same weight as a a big bag of Peanut M&M's. It's bigger than a baby's arm and just as practical.
Despite its uselessness, I carry it every day and almost daily I'm asked the same questions: "Is that really your wallet?" and "What's up with the Costanza?" That refers to Jason Alexander's Seinfeld character, George Costanza, who in a ninth-season episode watched his own bulging billfold explode in a shower of receipts after it was pushed beyond its earthly limits. While not quite as dramatic, my money-holder is just as problematic.
Yeah, I know. I have a problem.
Wallets were first introduced to polite society in the late 1600s, right after paper money hit the streets. And it's easy to see why men's wallets started to expand. While women have enough room to carry their entire lives in a purse, the typical male has to figure out how to carry the following—identification; business, credit and debit cards; cash; the occasional condom; kid's photos; and coffee coupon—without looking like he's just grown a tumor out of his butt. It's not only hard, it's impossible. And carrying a "murse" is not an option, not for most self-respecting queers.
I've tried slimming down via my "disco wallet," i.e., a Louis Vuitton cardholder, which has enough room to hold my driver's license. That's when I wear really tight jeans. The rest of the time I am stuck with the beast.
That's why it was serendipitous that I received a box today. It was from DB Clay, the PDX folks who turned a booth full of duct-tape wallets at Saturday Market into a full-fledged billfold biz. They sent us a box full of new wallets. I want to try one out, but I'm scared it won't be big enough. Oh, crap. I really am a size queen.