Breaking a habit

I am tremendous creature of habit. Once I find an item I like, I will use it as long as it is still functional, and long after if is far from fashionable.

Take, for example, my hairbrush. It is the only hairbrush I have ever owned. It is a fantastic brush. It’s rather, let’s just say worn. Back in college, one of my fraternity brothers saw me using it one morning as we were getting ready in the fraternity community bathroom. “Is that a dog brush?” he asked.

So it’s not pretty. But boy does it work. Best brush ever. My son is 13, so he really doesn’t have a need for a brush, as his hair just flops where it wants to, and he’s fine with that. Not the battle I’ll be picking. But my wife and daughter both have bunches of different brushes of different sizes, stashed throughout the house, cars, etc. Yet for some reason, I keep finding really long hairs on my brush. Hmm. You always come back to excellence.

I’m the same way with clothes and accessories, although admittedly I don’t have many accessories — my wedding ring, belt and a wallet.

My ring I’ve had for 18 years, and I certainly don’t plan on trading that in for a new one. My belt is starting to show some wear and tear, and I will soon approach my wife, hold up the belt and ask, “Is it time?” She will nod in a sympathetic manner and say, “Come on. I’ll take you belt shopping.”

And then there is my wallet. Worn and broken in, it slides in my pocket as if I just dipped it in melted butter (which is not recommended). The cards that rest inside it slide in and out with the greatest of ease. It is the perfect wallet, with years of seasoning from going in and out of my back pocket, and pressed and kneaded by years of sitting on it, pressing out all the newness and, with each sit, pressing a little more of that seasoning that makes it perfect.

I love my wallet.

So I was sorry to have to retire it unexpectedly. But sometimes, my love of habit can be topped.

My daughter recently returned from a trip to Italy with her high school chorus. It was an amazing 10-day trip of a lifetime. She’s 15, and a good and responsible kid, so we were, surprisingly to us, not worried about her. We knew she’d be OK on her first trip abroad.

We picked her up on a Friday night. She texted us when the bus from the the airport was a short way away: “Be there in 30 minutes. I’m hungry. But don’t want pizza or pasta.” Seems reasonable.

In short order, we had our gal back home, a complete family of four again. I told Allie that she could wait on unpacking and such, as she was as tired as a teen returning from Italy should be. She said she had gotten us a few things, and she did want to unpack those before she went to bed. She passed out her gifts to my wife and son. She said, “Dad, I saved yours for last, and it’s for Father’s Day, but can you go ahead and open it?” Father’s Day was a couple of days away, but I figured it would be fine.

I unwrapped the package and there it was — a hairbrush.

Ha! Kidding. Everyone knows the brush is untouchable. It was a wallet. A real, Italian leather wallet. Engraved with my initials.

I saw the look in her eyes. It was that, “Do you like it?” look. I love it.

I didn’t immediately switch to my new wallet. And not because I was stalling, but rather because, well, I had things to do. But one evening a few days later, my daughter noticed my wallet sitting on the table next to the new one. “Dad, want me to switch your stuff over?” Tough to say no to a doe-eyed kid who really wants to see her dad put his new gift into action.IMG_7357

So my new wallet is stiff and shiny. I have to wiggle the cards to get them out. But each day, it gets a little less stiff and the cards come out a little easier. I’m going to break this wallet in, and I’m going to break it in good. Because I want it to be the last wallet I ever have. Because it’s perfect.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Charleston. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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