The Surprising Thing I Inherited From My Dad

...his wallet.
  1. Not all genetic markers passed down from parent to child are obvious. In addition to anger, intelligence, and creativity, I’m convinced there are biological blueprints for bargain-hunting, waiting room patience, navigational literacy, basketball dribbling, monkey bar fearlessness, and backwards roller skating.
  2. These traits and dysfunctions may lay dormant for decades, unnoticed, until an older relative observing you remarks: “Your father used to do that all the time,” sometimes followed by, “until I beat it out of him.”
  3. I never gave much thought to the common denominators that connect me to my dad until he pulled out his wallet one night at a diner. And there it was – the damning evidence...
  4. I had inherited my dad’s wallet.
  5. Once upon a time, my wallet was thin and smooth. It contained little more than a driver’s license, a credit card, and a few dollars.
  6. Now, my wallet is like his: the kind of wallet you might imagine owned by someone on "Hoarders".
  7. It’s stuffed to the gills with expired newspaper coupons, restaurant receipts, gift cards, discount cards, credit cards, business cards, and scraps of paper with little-to-no value. Its girth creates an uncomfortable bulge in my front pocket.
  8. (Note to my southern friends: When you commute via New York City subway, wallets don’t sit in the back seat – they always ride shotgun.)
  9. When I was a kid, my dad’s wallet didn’t strike me as the portable flea market it truly is. Like a magician’s hat, that wallet held mystical power. Specifically, the ability to produce a tiny coupon for almost every air-conditioned adventure.
  10. Questions like “Should we eat out?” and “Should we buy this?” were often answered with “I have a coupon!”
  11. I like the idea of my own kids looking at my bulging billfold with such awe – and not just as a portable ATM.
  12. Yes, it’s a sad thing when you have to hold your wallet like you would a cheeseburger, but whenever I want an excuse for eating out or indulging a consumer fantasy, chances are good something in there will show me the way – as if Dad was guiding me there himself.