Choices: Eric Reads the Week, #64

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

This week: Jane Fonda's stunning animal print trench, Rihanna gave me a new face, and Betsy DeVos gets a demerit from me.

I had to buy a new wallet because my old wallet was falling apart at every conceivable seam. It was no longer a wallet. It was a raggedy strap of leather in which my cards just sat out of habit. Every time I'd pull it out to pay for something (which was constantly because I have an internet spending problem but also I refuse to ever let any website save my card information because Russian hackers) my entire life would go spilling across the nearest flat surface. Credit cards, debit cards, cards to three different library systems, every coffee house guest loyalty punch card every printed, business card for a bunch of people I was supposed to email, a $2 bill that I was given 7 years for good luck (results pending), and public transit cards for every city from Washington to New York. It's... a lot.

On the television show Homicide Andre Braugher's character Frank Pembleton has this extended conversation with his partner about the size of their wallets and the theory that an overstuffed wallet will mess up your spine. I don't remember how it resolves but I think about that conversation like once a week. This show was on TV like 20 years ago; for two decades it has terrified me about the health risks of a wallet that was too full (there's a metaphor!)

I try to sort out my wallet pretty frequently and augment that practice by worrying aimlessly about my back. It's a fulfilling life.

But, no matter how much I clean out errant receipts that I'm holding on to for "taxes," a wallet that is not technically stitched together anymore is of little use to anyone. I thought about just duct taping it back together and giving you "middle-aged suburban dad who does not give a fudge" vibes, but I am not a dad, I do give a fudge, and I am not middle-aged (although my therapist thinks I'm going through a mid-life crisis, which is excellent news!)

I decided to Macy's to buy a wallet because, like, where do you buy a wallet? I walked through a mall! I ate an Auntie Anne's pretzel! I felt my life slowly slip away! I've only had two or three previous wallets as an adult. I had a gorg baby blue pouch wallet my friend Neil gave to me. It was by some fancy brand and cost way more than any of the cards that I kept in it were worth. I loved it! After that wore out, I replaced it with a red bi-fold that I bought off of some fashion deals website because I love fashion and also deals! I tell you this to illustrate that I didn't really have a working knowledge of how one is supposed to shop for a wallet. Macy's keeps wallets in that "Things you need that you don't have a lot of opinions about section" which also includes belts, undershirts and socks. That section is also known as "Father's Day!" Why is it that dads constantly need basic foundational garments that will keep their pants up or hold their money and yet they never get them for themselves. What is going on with dads?! Dads! Get your lives together! Also! Happy Fathers Day! Here is an sock. An single sock.

I was shocked to find that, at Macy's, they keep the wallets inside boxes. What am I supposed to do with this? There are so many options but how am I supposed to choose one when it is in a box? Here's what I don't want: a box in my pocket. Here's what I do want: I don't know. Do I want a bi-fold? A tri-fold? A money clip? A purse? I actually want a purse, tbh. I realize this now. I should have just bought a purse. Ah well, maybe next Father's Day.

I guess it isn't the wisest business practice to let people test drive a product by putting their belongs inside of it and putting it in their pockets, but how else am I supposed to know if this wallet will ruin my spine? I stared at the huge selection, completely at a loss, wishing I had a kid who could just make this choice for me. I realized that it was probably possible to do a lot of ergonomic research on this purchase but I was starting to suspect that I no longer gave any fudges at all. I picked up least expensive wallet that looked like it wouldn't fall apart immediately, purchased it, and went on to live the second half of my life.

This week's columns actually have nothing to do with wallets. I just wanted to tell you that story. The do involve people making choices--some informed, some haphazard. From Meghan Markle's choice to have her fiance teach her how to drive stick shift, to Jane Fonda's choice to wear a fabulous leopard print trench. But first! Heavens to Betsy!

Dear Betsy DeVos: Please See Me After Class

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was eviscerated in a 60 Minutes interview when Lesley Stahl pulled the dirty trick of asking simple questions and knowing facts. In a 13-minute segment DeVos gave a full hour's worth of absolute nonsense, double-talk, half-answers, and an interrupted air of unearned superiority. DeVos is reportedly surprised by her poor on-air performance and has written a sternly worded letter to the SparkNotes page she crammed on "Education" before showing up to be interviewed. What's perhaps wildest about this interview is that Lesley Stahl didn't even ask questions that were particularly complex or argumentative. She was literally like, "Are schools doing good?" and Betsy DeVos was like, "What is skule?"[READ THE FULL COLUMN]

RuPaul Received His Walk of Fame Star From Jane Fonda, Who Was Wearing a Leopard-Print Trench

This photo is my happy place. Unfortunately, I need to withdraw my downpayment from San Junipero because when I die I now want to be buried in this photograph. Turn me into pixels or something. I don't care how you do it. Just know that I am spending eternity power-clashing gleefully at the place where Jane's leopard print meets Ru's red plaid. That's my new address. 1 Leopard Plaid Lane, Fondaville, RuNiverse. Please update your contact info. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

I really like writing articles for which the pitch is, basically, "Me, an idiot, tries a thing!" You may recall my article about trying to Ruth Bader Ginsburg workout from a couple of months ago. I'd love to do more things like this. Tell me things I should try that will make me uncomfortable but also maybe make my life better! This week, I tried out putting on makeup and catfishing myself! As awkward as it is taking high def photos of my actual face and putting them on a beauty website, I really loved how this piece came out.

I Was a Male Makeup Virgin Until Rihanna Came Into My Life

Fenty Beauty has me out here looking like I eat right and follow Kanye’s workout plan. I look like I was pre-approved for an AMEX Black Card (put that metaphor in your Colson Whitehead novel!). I’m in these streets looking like a real life Kehinde Wiley painting. I looked like the prayers went up and the blessings came down. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

Meghan and Harry Face the Greatest Relationship Challenge: Driving Lessons

Prince Harry is reportedly teaching fiancée Meghan Markle how to operate a stick shift vehicle and if they have a relationship strong enough to withstand driving lessons, they'll stay married forever and one day rule Olde America.

Harry and Meghan, as you may be aware, are two of the most charming people on the planet, but you honestly couldn't pay me to sit with them in a car for hours being given the sort of patient instruction that driving requires. Whomst among us wants to learn how to drive from their significant other? That's the quickest way for a sig. oth. to become an insignificant who was left standing on the other side of the road. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Trump Met With Trudeau and They Disagreed About Trade Deficit Facts

The President continues to be 100 percent That Dude. As in, that dude you meet at a barbecue who tells you a whole bunch of blatant lies, double dips with wild abandon, and has probably crashed the affair because no one seems to know him. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Let's Hang Out!

Chicago: TIME IS ON OUR SIDE is now running! It's fabulous! I'm so so proud of it and if you're in the area, I want you to see it! On stage at Theater Wit through April 7! MORE HERE.

Philadelphia: Hosting THE MOTH StorySlam at World Cafe Live on April 2. Online tickets are sold out; but there are some left for day of door sales.

DC: Hosting THE MOTH StorySlam at The Howard Theater on March 19. Tickets are available here.
Also hosting THE MOTH StorySlam at The Miracle Theater on April 5!

New York: Hosting THE MOTH Mainstage at Lincoln Center on April 18. Tickets are available here.

Random thing from the internet.

I have fallen so hard for the band Young Fathers (speaking of dads!). They just released their new album Cocoa Sugar and it's excellent. If you like TV On the Radio, you'll definitely love Young Fathers, a Scottish trio that produces a mix of hip-hop, electronic, and neo-soul music. It's a really dynamic album that I've been listening to on repeat all weekend. Their May show in Brooklyn is sold out (the only East Coast show currently announced), so if you have have a hookup to a secret stash of tickets, LET ME KNOW. Seriously. Email me. I will pay all the money in my new wallet.

Give a fudge!