There were a significant number of conversations with my father that most people would agree usually occurs between father and son when the son reaches 20 or so. They are the first man-to-man conversations where sire and offspring bond and where the proud papa gets to transfer his “wisdom” to his son(s), you know – man stuff.
I began these conversations, and the relationship that accompanies them much later; in my late 30’s. It gave me and interesting perspective on parenting and living with other people on a planet and being a man. This one, by far, is my favorite of all time.
I was maybe 40 or 41 years old and my Dad was visiting my house. Suddenly he says to me: “Let me see your wallet, son. Please.” I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for that question. I asked him why he wanted to see my wallet, to which he replied: “If I don’t see your wallet, I won’t be able to share a particular thought with you that might be useful.” So I handed him my wallet. He looked into all of the slots and pockets or whatever they are called until he was satisfied and then gave me my wallet back without saying anything at all. He then took out his wallet; a brown bi-fold leather wallet; simple, classic and practical. He opened it wide to expose the two pockets that one accessed basically from the inside middle of the wallet. A common place for business cards and such that one considers “wallet-worthy” but don’t require quick access. He opened up one of those pockets and began to pull out a folded piece of paper, or at least that’s what I thought I was seeing. Suddenly the gesture became familiar: I’d seen him do this before; the folded piece of paper was money, usually a $100.00 bill. He pulled out the bill and unfolded it, indeed it was a nice crisp $100.00 bill. Then he looked at me and his eyes became those of a mischievous little boy and he smiled his irresistible smile – whatever was coming next was going to be, if anything, fun.
Even though we were alone, he looked to his left and then to his right and lowering his voice a bit, said to me:
“Now listen up Son, and listen well. This is what’s called “mad money” you should always keep a C-note in your wallet for mad money. It’s important. Do not forget this, okay?
I simply had to ask, so I did, I said: “What for, pop?” He grinned and let out a slightly sinister giggle as he looked at me and put a hand on my shoulder right before answering my question. He winked at me and said: “Because;… you never know!” and skipped out of the room, giggling all the way out the front door.”
As usual, pop was right. I carried my “mad-money”, as my father taught me until we destroyed the function and concept of money, but during the years that I did, on more than one occasion, it saved my ass, got me out of a mess or was that which allowed me to ask the gorgeous blonde sitting on a buddy’s couch looking bored after everyone else lost their pocket money playing poker if she wanted to have dinner, or drinks. Dad always said: “Never use mad money for anything that you should cover out of your pocket. It will let you know when to pull it out of your wallet. It most certainly did.
Mad money. I would have never, ever calculated the enormous importance of that concept in my life if my father had not passed it down. It may be one of the most useful tools I’ve ever had, because: you never know!
That’s my pop