Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author.

by Greg Schwem

Excuse me, random female, may I borrow your purse?
I will return it momentarily; I just want to know how it feels to carry whatever you want throughout the day and evening without an unsightly protrusion in your back pocket; one that could easily cause your pants to drift south at inopportune moments.
It’s what we men face when we carry a wallet.
I know, ladies, you look at wallets with jealousy. “Imagine,” you say to yourselves, “being able to fit everything in that 5-by-4-inch bi-folded area and then hide it. No need to worry about whether the exterior matches our outfit and which hand feels more comfortable to carry it everywhere we go.”
It’s similar to my wife lamenting that I can be ready for an evening out in the time it takes to run a comb through my hair, while she spends an hour in front of the bathroom mirror surrounded by an army of tubes, brushes and powders.
“Men have it so easy,” she’ll say, while I tap my foot and look at my watch, signaling we are already 15 minutes late.
But when it comes to the purse versus wallet choice, girls, YOU have it easy. You don’t have to prioritize. Need to carry an extra credit card? The purse has room. A secondary form of identification? You could shove a passport into its inner confines, and nobody would know. If I’m asked to show anything other than a driver’s license to the bank teller, the airport security employee or the hotel front desk clerk, I’m screwed.
Internet retailers seem well aware of my dilemma; each year around the holidays, I get bombarded with online ads from companies determined to solve my space issue. This year the winner was the Ridge, makers of a wallet it claims holds up to 12 cards and oodles of bills. The website also touts the most puzzling feature I’ve ever heard: “Expands to remain slim.”
I fail to see how anything can expand yet remain slim. It certainly didn’t happen to my body following Thanksgiving dinner, and I see little hope during the season of Christmas eating.
Still I excitedly forwarded the Ridge link to my wife, telling her I would like it under the tree this Christmas.
“I finished shopping for you months ago,” she replied. “And haven’t you tried these things before? You always go back to a regular wallet.”
She’s right. As I peer in my wallet now, I see 15 cards — three over the “expands to remain slim” Ridge wallet limit — and wonder how I could part with any of them. Sure, I could carry one credit card; but what if it gets declined while I’m Christmas shopping? That has already happened once, but an angry call to my credit card issuer proved the error was theirs, not mine.
My ATM card? It’s a must, for I’m of the generation that occasionally prefers cash, as opposed to whipping out a credit card for a 99-cent cup of coffee. Then there’s my transit card and my health insurance card. Sure, I could forego the latter but what if, while taking the subway, I get mugged and require medical attention? See the dilemma?
Before long, I’ve convinced myself I’m not an ideal candidate for anything other than an old-fashioned wallet that includes plastic sleeves for inserting pictures of children. I’m proud to say all those photos have been moved to my iPhone. Just give me a minute while I feverishly swipe through my photos app to find a decent shot of my kids.
So, women, hand me your purses. Unlike wallets, they come in all shapes, sizes, colors and patterns. I’ll pick one and will spend my time wondering what to carry, as opposed to what not to carry, when I leave the house each morning. I’ll confidently march down the subway stairs knowing I have everything for the ride, including a transit card, my phone and maybe even a hard cover book to pass the time.
Plus, if need be, I’ll have a weapon to swing at a subway mugger.
You’ve enjoyed reading, and laughing at, Greg Schwem’s weekly humor columns in Senior Living News. But did you know Greg is also a nationally touring stand-up comedian? And he loves to make audiences laugh about the joys, and frustrations, of growing older. Watch the clip and, if you’d like Greg to perform at your senior center or senior event, contact him through his website at