Big Billy – Drivin’ me up the wallet

Minnie got me a new wallet for Christmas.. I’ve had the same wallet for, oh, prolly 20 years – before the kids were born anyway. Minnie gave me that one for Christmas, too. It started out as a black wallet – real leather, because before ya have kids, you can afford things like that.

That wallet was some slick when I first got it. I remember walkin’ up to the counter at theBig BIlly video store and feelin’ like a millionaire as I took out my new wallet, folded it open and produced a crisp two-dollar bill to pay for my new release. Most of the wallets I had before were plastic – fake leather-lookalikes that would last a few months before the part that folds cracked open along the back.

But this one stead right soft and never cracked a bit. And the longer it lasted, the more stuff I seemed to stuff into it, so the last couple of years I’ve been carryin’ around a brick in my back pocket.

What’s wrong with yer new wallet, Minnie asked me last week when we were takin’ down the decorations, don’tchya like it?

Course I do, I said. And I started to say somethin’ about how there’s no way all the stuff from my old wallet would fit in my new one, but Minnie told me I was foolish. I never heard another thing about it until I was watchin’ the hockey game last night, and she walks past the TV out to the kitchen carryin’ both wallets.

What’s this now? I says.

I’m cleanin’ out yer old wallet for ya and settin’ up yer new one, she says.

I can’t say I was too crazy about the idea. It’s not that I got anything in my wallet I’d want to hide from Minnie, but this definitely ain’t a two-way street. Me and the kids know if any of us even looks inside Minnie’s purse, she’d knock our blocks off.

So she started haulin’ everything out on the table, and you wouldn’t be believe some of the stuff in there.

A receipt from Kentucky Fried Chicken for a three-piece meal, and it’ll be ten years old in June, Minnie said. When’s the last time you cleaned out your wallet?

I stopped to think about it for a second, but she answered for me – You never cleaned this out before, did ya?

Minnie kept haulin’ out things I didn’t even know were in there.

A membership card for G&S Video in Sydney? Why would you have been rentin’ movies all the way in Sydney? And hasn’t that store been closed for years?

As it turned out, I had a membership card for pretty much every video store that existed on Cape Breton Island.in the last 20 years. Then I remembered, in the late 80s when the video stores used to have price wars, it was nothin’ for me to drive all the way to Sydney or North Sydney and rent an armload of movies for 49 cents each or somethin’.

Another thing she found tons of was loyalty club cards from pretty much every coffee shop and fast food joint. Buy 10 ponzos, get the 11th free. Buy 10 coffee, get the 11th free. There was coupons from a lumber yard where I coulda saved a dollar on a bag of screwnails in 1993, another one for a free windshield chip repair (with the purchase of a windshield), a coupon for a free haircut at a barbershop that I remembered winnin’ as a door prize at a benefit dance years ago – dozens and dozens of coupons like this, all expired, sittin’ in a pile on Minnie’s placemat.

Then she got to the part of the wallet where people with money keep their money. Only, since I never have money, I always kept receipts there. It started out years ago, I’d keep important receipts, like Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, stuff like that, in case they had to be returned or didn’t work or whatever. But then at some point, I guess I just started stuffin’ any receipt at all in there.

See, Minnie said, this one here is for the slippers you got me for Christmas two years ago. But this one here is for a bottle of Big 8 and a pack of smokes from Needs ya got yesterday. You probably don’t need to hang onto either of them, eh?

Of course I do! I said, just arsin’ around. What if the pop’s flat, or what if the smokes don’t light?

Well, you’re halfway through the smokes and there’s only a drip of pop left, so I’d say we’re fine, she said, and added them to the pile.

When did it get like this, I was thinkin’ to myself. When did men’s wallets become women’s purses? Holy cripes, put a handle on that thing, throw some lipstick and Kleenex in it and I would have been set to go to bingo.

So Minnie’s lecturin’ me on this junk I hung onto for no reason, and sayin’ how sittin’ on a huge wallet like that all these years is prolly part of the reason I got a bad back and then she flips open the back section of the wallet and she goes quiet.

Oh cripes, I was thinkin’ to myself. What did she find? I started wrackin’ my brain tryin’ to think what I might have in there that would get me in trouble. What little white lie did she catch me in?

Then she got tears in her eyes, and I really started to panic.

But she came out with a stack of wallet-sized pictures.

You got the kids’ school pictures from every year in here! she said, and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Of course I do, I said. Now, do you think that ponzo coupon is still good?

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