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The Bucks Stop Here

By Jerry Zezima

A major American bank where I don’t have any money because, unfortunately, I don’t have any money has hired Jennifer Garner and Samuel L. Jackson, major American actors who have a lot more money than I do, to ask me this important financial question:

“What’s in your wallet?”

The answer, Jennifer and Samuel L., is $3.

But at least it is tucked into a brand-new wallet I just bought because my old wallet was falling apart despite the lamentable fact that there was never much money in it.

My wife, Sue, who manages the money in our house, where we still live because she pays the mortgage every month, took me shopping at a store that specializes in handbags, luggage and accessories such as wallets that really ought to hold more than $3.

“Is there any money in here?” I asked the very nice, witty and helpful store manager, Laurabeth Collins, as I peeked inside one of the wallets on display.

“No, I took it out,” Laurabeth replied. “You should have come this morning.”

“I may buy it anyway because I need a new one,” I said, taking out my old wallet to show Laurabeth.

“I’ve seen worse,” she told me.

“The problem,” I said, “is that it’s too thick, like my skull, but it hurts the opposite end when I sit down.”

Laurabeth nodded and said, “If you don’t have any money in there, what’s making it so thick?”

“Cards,” I answered. “Credit cards, insurance cards, Medicare cards, appointment cards, everything except playing cards, which would make the wallet even thicker except I’m not playing with a full deck.”

Laurabeth nodded again and said, “I can save you some money and solve your card problem at the same time.”

“How?” I asked eagerly.

“With a wallet set, which costs less than just this one wallet,” she said, showing me a box with a wallet, a card insert and a keychain. “You can carry the card insert separately,” Laurabeth noted, “so your opposite end won’t hurt when you sit down.”

“That would be good for the bottom line,” I said.

Sue and Laurabeth exchanged glances.

“Or,” said Laurabeth, “maybe you’d like a sling bag.”

“What’s it for,” I asked, “a slingshot?”

“No,” Laurabeth said. “It’s for guys who have too much stuff. My husband is always saying to me, ‘Put this in your bag, put that in your bag.’ I told him, ‘Get your own!’”

“You mean it’s like a pocketbook for men?” I asked.

“It’s more like a small backpack,” Laurabeth said as she showed me some. “Then there are man bags, which are bigger.”

“What do women carry credit cards in?” I inquired.

“Zip-around wallets,” Sue answered. “I love mine.”

“Me, too!” Laurabeth said in a wifely bonding. “I also keep my membership cards in there.”

“I don’t belong anywhere,” I admitted.

“Poor guy,” Laurabeth said sympathetically.

“No, I mean I belong at home,” I said, looking at Sue for assurance, “but I don’t belong to a health club or any other place that would have to lower its standards to accept me.”

“That means your card insert won’t be too thick,” said Sue, who suggested I get the wallet set. “And if you don’t use the keychain, I’ll take it.”

“Sold!” I told Laurabeth, who also sold me a shaving kit at a big discount.

“This is your lucky day,” she said. “You got a wallet set and a shaving kit and you saved a lot of money.”

“And I still have $3 left over,” I said.

“What are you going to spend it on?” Laurabeth asked.

“Lottery tickets,” I answered. “I want to have a good answer the next time Jennifer Garner and Samuel L. Jackson ask me what’s in my wallet.”

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of five books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures and Every Day Is Saturday, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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