05 June 2011

Time To Grow Up Now

Many years ago, back when I was College Boy Gumbo, I had the occasion to head out one night for some carousing with some friends and acquaintances.  And by carousing, I mean pizza and copious quantities of beer.  Not that pizza and beer is unusual for a night out in college.  Quite the contrary, it would almost have been weird if we had not consumed mass quantities of both.

No, what made this particular night different was what occurred in the aftermath, as I was walking (read: stumbling) back to the dorm, trying to navigate my way to a horizontal surface.

The path back to the dorm went straight across a wide, open field.  I recall it being a cool night, and babbling the inanities one typically does when cousin Ethyl has stopped in for a visit.  Nothing noteworthy there, either.  Until we were about halfway across the field.  My friends told me later that I stopped, looked quizzically at my hands, and said:

"Time to grow up now, and get a new wallet."

I shook my head, and then we continued on to the dorm, whereupon I achieved blessed horizontality and managed to sleep it off with only minor effects the next day.

A great epigram it was, and it achieved minor myth status in my social circle.  On the surface it appears to be nonsense, silly but without real meaning.

Decades later, though, that bon mot has come back to me.  This time, it actually made sense.  The one in the picture above, I had so long I forgot when I bought it.  It was falling to pieces, ragged, threadbare and grungy.  Today, while out shopping for some new shoes, I saw some wallets on sale, and knew it was time.  I finally got a new wallet. 

The old wallet I bought long ago, in a time when my life was very different.  The boy (and I use 'boy' deliberately, even though I was in my 30's then) I was had no clue what was in store for him as he strolled in blitheful ignorance into his 40's.  He had no clue the tragedies awaiting him, the emotional hurricanes and the deep blacknesses lying in wait.  He just kept stuffing money and business cards and plastic in that wallet, never noticing just how much things were fraying and tearing.

He had no idea just how badly things would fall apart, and when they did, he clung to that wallet because it was familiar and fit him and he didn't want to throw it away.

But today, upon pulling it from his pocket for the last time, to pay for the wallet that would replace it, the boy knew he had given way to the man.  It was time to clean things up, no matter how small they seemed.  It doesn't do to try and keep things in a container that will no longer hold them, from the holes and the tears that turned things into lace.

No, it would not do.  It is, after all, time to grow up now.  He has a new wallet.


  1. a sober post (pun intended) Irish. No, we don't know, do we? We can't know. And if we did know, what then?

    Beautiful writing and thinking. You are growing up into a fine man.

  2. A man keeps the same wallet a long time. This I've noticed about every man I've ever known. Like you, perhaps it's an indication of changes on the horizon, storms moving out to make way for clear skies, new seasons to enjoy. I'm glad you have a new wallet.

  3. I made sure that my son's first "real" wallet was a good one that will last him a long time. He's only 14, and I think it'll be a while before he has to replace it.
    Welcome to adult-hood - it sucks sometimes, but we appreciate the naps so much more now.

  4. I've always thought there was something so cathartic about getting a new wallet, sort of marks a fresh start to me on the rare occasions it happens. Hope your new wallet is sturdy and filled with good things Gumbo

  5. Finding new places to hold your things...new spaces. They seem to be in abundance. I see this not as a sad writing...not as resentful of all those old receipts taking up space...but as opening up to the future.

    And "bon mot"?! Ha. I wonder where you might have heard that phrase mostly recently prior to this writing. :)

    Now I feel the need to go quote Churchill.

  6. It is the slightest and unexpected things that mark changes in one's life - yes, time to grow up - it hits us when we least expect it - but times change and for good things sometimes - your wallet and life will be full of the good and the great!

  7. I'm thinking George Costanza wallet.

  8. horizontality - Nice.

    I adopted a dog last week (come on by and see. how. cute.) My dad cautioned me about the expense of dogs, etc. I had to remind him (and myself) that when one is well into her mid-forties, she can get a damn dog.

    :-)Congrats on your new wallet, Gumby.

  9. Great post! Your writing so bland and normal, but the substance is so interesting. Not everyone can do that.

    Take a look at my blog anytime as I know I will be following yours.


  10. Thanks for the peek into your brain. I love how a simple moment isn't always so simple.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

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