Are you WatFat? 5 Ways to Stop a Stuffed Wallet from Hurting (Financially & Physically).

“Put that thing away, you’re going to get us mugged, Anthony!”

If it was summer 1977 and sweltering, which means you could find Anthony and I burning hours navigating the trash, bums, and faded carnival infrastructures of Coney Island. And of course, the crinkle-cut fries at Nathan’s were a daily staple.


Anthony (he hated to be called Tony), always carried a wallet. I felt it strange for 13 year old chubby (deemed husky at the time) kids to carry wallets. I thought about it briefly but was happy to add money earned (paper route) to a dollar ball stuffed in the front pocket of my Levi’s.

Not that there was any cash in Anthony’s bulging backside pocket. His old man was going to trash this frayed leather black thing with the words “SWANK” stamped in gold letters on an inside fold, but instead tossed it to son for fun.

I don’t think Anthony Sr. knew what he started.

Not that there was cash in this wallet. It was loaded with baseball cards (I remember Rusty Staub in there), Wacky Package stickers (very popular at the time), and Partridge Family trading cards (embarrassing).

However, if you flashed a fat wallet in Coney Island you were screaming in public – “Rob me!”

capn crud  My favorite “Wacky Package” Sticker.

Somewhere along the way I channeled Anthony. It happened.

I admit: I was WatFat.

fat wallet

I suffered from the debilitating financial and physical effects of a bulgy, unsightly (fat) wallet.

It wasn’t just cash – although I am guilty of trashing ten bucks along with a bunch of ancient wallet-flap papers.

An endless explosion of receipts, photos, business cards, wrinkled cash.  It was too much.

And women? You suffer too. I’ve seen wallets extracted from purses that revival the weight of bricks.

If your wallet is unorganized, how is your money doing? Think about it.

Lighter wallet, lighter financial burden?

Random thoughts:

1). Take inventory now. Break out wallet contents; take inventory of your spending habits. Wallets bulging with store receipts, holding more than 2 credit cards, overflowing with retail reward punch cards that frequent purchases, have little cash, can be WatFat warning signs of excessive credit usage and overspending. Do a dive into the deep pockets of your debts. Add up recurring monthly debt including mortgage (principal, interest, insurance, taxes) and auto loan payments. Total gross monthly income. Calculate your household debt-to-income ratio using Bankrate’s online calculator. A ratio below 36 is considered favorable by lenders. I say it’s still too high. Work at a ratio closer to 25% which means a greater discipline to slim down spending and expenses.

2). Lighten the load. Carry less, spend less. First, ditch the empty wallet. It’s stressed and worn from carrying so much – like its owner, perhaps. Reduce WatFat with a light replacement. My favorite website for slim wallets is Second, carry your best reward point credit card and a debit card. That’s it. With credit centralized to one card, you’ll gain discovery over spending weaknesses as you review the December credit card statement which aggregates and categorizes expenditures. Last, take the statement to an objective financial partner who can help you pinpoint areas for improvement.

3). Don’t fight the sleek. So, what should you carry? A form of identification like a driver’s license and medical insurance card. No receipts – most retailers will offer e-mail receipts; create a folder in your inbox. Still carry photos? Why? You have a smartphone for that. Cash can be neatly folded in a slim wallet. Do we even need to discuss coins? No we don’t. Carry coins in your pocket. At the end of each day, place them in a coin jar. Laughing at the coin jar? Read this – The Power of the Lowly Coin Jar. My coin jar is a 2 foot-tall 1966 plastic Batman bank. Make it fun.

4). Slim wallet, slimmer medical bills. Piriformis Syndrome or “Fat Wallet Syndrome” is the irritation of a strap-like muscle in the buttocks that may be occur when a person sits with a bulging wallet in a rear pocket for prolonged periods. Literally, it’s a pain or numbness in the butt or hip that requires medical attention. Treating my posterior like a file cabinet is not worth increased medical bills. What do you think?

5). Less wallet, better moods. People with a streamlined portable money system appear to have lighter attitudes and feel greater control over money. Through the years I’ve conducted joint “wallet-ectomies” with others who reported back an overwhelming feeling of relief. Spending had been examined, reduced and monitored successfully just from a reduction in wallet size.

Individuals tend to be less stressed by reducing clutter in their wallets and purses. Perhaps, it’s a small step to greater financial improvement and organization.

So, it’s ok to give in and confess to WatFat.

I’ve been there. The weight has obliterated many back pockets.

Fight WatFat and succeed.

Realize your household cash flow may increase in size.

And that’s weight you’ll be thankful for.

FYI – Anthony and I did get mugged. Thugs (grasping stiletto knives with growling orange tigers printed on the handles) near Spook-A-Rama horror attraction, snatched his wallet and demanded my cash ball. Guess I was stupid and revealed too much.

Shaken, we walked it off. Cops wouldn’t do anything. Flash a wallet, pay the consequences.

Eventually we found it:  Underneath the Coney Island beach boardwalk.

Tossed among the rocks, ripped apart, a gusset assault.

We accounted for almost everything.

The crooks took nothing although the Topps’ Keith Partridge trading card was missing.

Perhaps the waves took it.

Or criminals had a soft spot for David Cassidy.

It was too much to ponder for a 95 degree day.

Anthony was done with the wallet. Never looked back.

Cured of WatFat.

I bet he’s a fan of money clips now.








The Dark Ride – The Shadows that Shackle and How to Release Them.

“It’s so damn hot in here. I can’t breathe!”

Like an August in West Texas. Hot in the far back of a tiny closet.

Behind a locked door.

The smell. A combination of mold, worn plastics, the acrid odor of mechanization, body sweat, and a dishwashing liquid drop-hint of semen.

The carny potpourri was too much. Even after thirty minutes. It felt like hours of suffocation. The lack of even the tiniest pin stream of light made the sickness worse.

I put aside my fear of shadows. They lived outside the “safe” boundary of the ripped seat that brought me to this point. I knew it. They thrived where light couldn’t.

Peaked over the edge of the two-seat car that took me into amusement hell.

And vomited hard.

Into the warm, dark shadows.


A Coney Island dark ride.

One of my scary favorites.

Until that Friday night in August. 1975.

When frolic reversed like a spook house car. Right to fright.

Stuck in Coney Island’s famous –


spook a rama four

It took months to gather the courage to enter the black place. The desolation of winter falling on outdoor attractions would find me wandering outside this haunt. I was drawn to the dark. The shadows inside. Even when locked for the off-season, I was on. In. The ride.

SpookaRama three

It was that damn cyclops with the six pack.

I would stare up at that face. Shudder. My eyelids frozen open. Eyes behind them seduced to stare. I wanted to be there. Part of it. The attraction to the attraction was unnatural.

That solo eye slid back and forth in a slow, stilted sweep.

In the winter. When the sky was quiet and gray and cracked dirty urban streets were empty of banter, I swore I could hear the mechanized creak of that eye.That left arm. It moved up and down at a deliberate “look at what I can do” pace. Loud too. A creep hand that held a severed head by dark, long strands.

And I couldn’t get enough.

It was that damn sexy witch with the curves.

She tempted. Seduced me to enter.

Assured me it would be fine whatever “it” was. Perhaps my sanity, my sense of self, my ability to stay alive. Whatever fine was, I wanted it.

I shouldn’t be afraid.

To open up.

Be myself.

She promised not to scare me.

That body. It tricked me.

And I was scared. And excited.

And so wanted to leap.


It happened.

Trapped in the dark.

Shadows all around me.

Too deep into the ride.

I  was angry.

And the shadows surrounded me. I was breathing them in. Absorbing them through pores exchanging Satan for sweat.  I could feel a dark-line slither circle my heart.

My body tingled cold in a hot mess.

All I feared, hated. All that ate me inside. Swirled around me. And I couldn’t move.

In the sun haze of day that went to night behind swinging doors. Real fast. 1975.

spook a rama doors


The dark ride track comes full circle.

And it’s black again.

The creeps have returned. With shackles. Iron boots. Lead, dead female faces.

spook a rama five

Random Thoughts:

1). What tempts you to enter the dark? Perhaps it’s the promise of light. Of love. Of sex. Of higher knowledge. Of a new bundt cake recipe. Who knows? The dark. Before it swallows you, is a seductress. It promises you what isn’t there. What was never there. Maybe it’s a bright battery of false beacons. Could be the only way to awaken from a darkmare is to get stuck in the middle of it in the first place? That’s it! You need to be trapped. Vomit deep. Purge the fear of what the dark brings with it. But first comes absorption. Attachment. Acceptance. Then – Clarity.

2). How do you disarm the shadows? Be open to them. Have souls around you intuitive enough to expose and destroy them. You’ll know who they are when they come to rescue you from that ride with the dank stench. The primal will to survive will draw you to the human lights you require. Be patient. It can take a long time but if you’re open. It. Will. Happen. Who are your teachers of the light? I have found four so far. They know who they are. I pray for more. I seek them now. I’m not tricked by the dark light anymore. But first was the pain. The fear. And the motivation to.

3).  Release the shackles. Be prepared. When shackles break, some part of you will too. Consider it a priceless donation to a higher power. As a warrior willing to enter and then exit the dark, you’ll need to bleed. Give up a piece of yourself to gain a greater peace of yourself.

4). Get the lead out. Carrying the weight of the past and future will leave you for dead in the dark ride.

spook a rama rat

The ego is a hungry, rabid rodent. Eating you. Picking at you. Until. You’re the Spook-A-Rama rat. Fully engaged in the present will trap the rat, save your face and show you the way out of the illusions of fear and anger.

5). In the light, the dark shadows appear campy. Funny. Harmless. Rotted. Lots of wires. Nothing real. Promises you made to the fear will die. The ties that bound you to false obligations of the past will break.

Best-selling author, shiner of the light, James Altucher wrote this to me today – The shadows aren’t real. They are playing out a story with you. A fiction.

Well. Isn’t that what a dark ride is? A short thrill? A fiction?

But it’s supposed to end.

You’re not supposed to get stuck inside.

The eye isn’t supposed to follow you forever.

spook a rama eye

Eventually, it rots. Breaks. Exposes itself as a silly amusement.

The stare releases your spirit.

Riches come.

They shine.

And the light goes on forever.

Thanks to those who rescue you.

From the dark ride.

Dedicated to Misti Mathis.

The Colors, The Times, of Your Life – Will You Remember?


We were free. Moving quick in a white hot breeze. 1977. When the world flew by in lime green.

Slit through a black bowel of public housing. Deep in the middle of the aged carnival colors of blueviolet, aquamarine and bisque. Coney Island. A narrow way forged between the metropolis, slick brown with rot. The summer New York heat penetrated, bounced from dead, white alley cats forming a yellow haze floating neon pungent sluggish slow in still heat. Bright orange, with a burst of unhealthy steel-gray around the edges, like a healthy pink hue that hesitantly abandoned its soul, was there too. Cats and garbage rotted just that way in July. In 1977. In Coney Island. I remember.

The odor scorched the outer part of our pink nostrils until they flared red. But we didn’t care because this moment was designed to be fleeting. The clear blue of escape from a place we should not have been, was near. And as long as that moped motored us out  in one piece, alive, all the Sunday ritual – staring at the newly-painted off white walls behind the rich, marbled altar of St. Simon & Jude’s Church would have been worth it.


black out NY

Boom! Black.

The lights went out. A deepest black seeped in from the edges. Beige smoke rose above. From everywhere. It suffocated us like a color. Purple maybe. Stopped us dead. Frozen.


Restless white noise. Muffled sounds of agitated souls. Blood-red anger.

Frenzied, white round bursts of bright. Scattered. Flash lights cutting through, getting closer, like silver shards.

In the dim gray mist of yesteryear, when lapels were wider than a McDonald’s Happy Meal and Mayor McCheese still held power over us.

“We need to get out of here. In there,” I pointed. And kept pointing and she knew what I was pointing to. What I meant. Like she could see through midnight blue.

“Fuck no,” she said. A spanish, italian, puerto-rican fire mix of black-coal eyes, deep brown bouncy curls in red spandex and cherry-red heels.

“If you don’t get in the dumpster you’re getting raped and I’m getting robbed,” I said. Heels off. She moved. The color of imminent danger was crimson with dark-red daggers.

We dove boldly into the acrid stench of the mix. Eggplant in color, wet, with sticky blotches of yellow green. The lime-green Puch Moped that was to take us into the wild blue now secured behind the jungle-green metal coffin for the discarded muck public housing didn’t  want. Too much green. We puked. The gagging color of cloying hot crimson arose in our noses and throats.

A city summer. In the blackest of blackouts. 1977. I remember the gray shades of memories. The colors brought me back. To an alley. When looters almost discovered a boy, a moped and a girl’s saturated skin with Love’s Baby Soft (always smelled cotton-candy pink to me). All this clear vision from a lone lime-green bicycle I barely noticed. In a driveway. Yesterday. In Houston, Texas. A million miles away – faded into a lemon chiffon of time.

love's baby soft

Oh the colors, the colors. Perfect.

Colors have the astounding ability to anchor you back to a time and place for as long as you live. No matter how far to the past you venture. Colors are seeds that blossom the past to the present, immediately. Sort of like songs. Sort of like a person you love, or cherish. If you remember the colors, you’ll know what you feel about a moment is true. And real. Even when others doubt you. Even when you doubt you. The colors make it true. And true is slate blue.

Random Thoughts:

1). How will colors conjure up the past? Today I re-lived the memory of a first dinner. I smelled the thick tapestries of dark & tomato reds. The rich browns of hair and delicate tan of lines, of form, of grace. I’ll never forget the fire-brick colors of what ignited in mind and heart. The reams of gold in the conversation. I re-live those pigments every day.

2). Red & green are the colors of money. When stock markets are green, as they have been since the fiscal cliff (version 1) concluded, I use green to trim growth and profit. When there is red again, a trickle of crimson in the streets, I’m motivated to buy. Use the reds & greens to make smart financial decisions.

3). How will today’s colors form your future? Be careful with the colors you use today to form the thoughts that move you forward. Today I’m staring at coral, firebrick, and forest green from my windows. All soothing, positive colors to me. I’ll make it my business to avoid true dark shades today.

4). What colors will propel you to thank someone today, love someone, be grateful for a communication, a note, one positive word. Close your eyes. Think of those colors. Shamelessly relive the good memories tomorrow of how you changed someone’s attitude. For the better.

Like it’s 1977.

Because times were good.

Because we lived to escape.

The blazing yellow sun eventually showed us the way.

To the blue.

Back on course and lime-green.

Once again.

Like you.

And your memory.

Lime Green Puch Moped