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  • I must have been about 10 when my grandmother gave my older brother a wallet. It was small, blue and it had a coin pouch that was closed by a clasp.

    I looked up to my other brother a lot. I thought that a wallet was a symbol of responsibility. Only adults had wallets. Maybe it meant that you were becoming a man. My dad pulled out his worn wallet to buy groceries. I wanted a wallet too.

    I asked my mom for it. But it wasn't so easy. I had to accumulate points through a tedious process of logging hours practicing piano and filling out math worksheets.

    I wanted that wallet, so I did it. Banging away at the piano staring at the clock. Trying to multiply out polynomials as quickly as I could.

    After about a year, I got my wallet. It was beautiful: black, leather, and it a gold clasp that shut it together. There coin pocket was held together by a zipper.

    When I got it, I asked my mother for the money I had saved up and that she was holding for me. I put it in gingerly, so as not to crease the bills….

    Only later did I realize that it wasn't a man's wallet. Instead it was a woman's wallet. I confronted my mom, accusing her of just giving me one of her unused wallets she purchased at a clearance sale.

    She laughed and shrugged. She said, "How'd you guess? You couldn't tell the difference."

    I couldn't. But even then, years later, I felt a sting.
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