Like getting your first white head or unwanted erection, buying your first wallet is a wondrous rite of passage into male adolescence. The other day I caught a couple minutes of the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry buys his father a wallet with a Velcro close, and I immediately flashed back to the glory that was
the Ripper Wallet.
That sound! That beautiful sound! The sublime rrrrr-i-i-p of the Velcro flap being opened! Music to my ears! A curly nylon time machine! Suddenly I’m back in elementary school, showing off my beige Ripper (trimmed in dark brown – oh yeah, baby, beige on brown). I can feel the slick woven plastic surface in my hands as I type this.
The Ripper was my first wallet. I remember getting it shortly after I got busted for stealing the “bullet caps” off a car in the Sears parking lot so I could put them on my dirt bike.
I don’t remember if I ever put an ID or photo in the slot with the clear plastic cover. Probably not. At ten years old I had no children of my own to mindlessly crow about yet, and I certainly didn’t need to look at a picture of my mom, who I saw every day anyway, and the Catholic school I attended didn’t issue us ID cards. No need to. The nuns knew each and every one of us by name and by sin (never confessed to the stolen bullet caps, of course – that would’ve been considered a mortal sin; instead, tossed out soft balls like “I didn’t clean up my room this week.”)
But a Ripper alone didn’t complete the package. To be officially sanctioned as cool, you needed the following bitchin’ items:
Corduoroy OP shirts. (preferably two tone – and preferably beige/brown).
Lighting bolt tube socks.
Hang Ten Hawaii shirt.
Or, if it was the preppies you were trying to fit in with, a La Coste shirt.
Polo if your family had money.
All of which, except for the La Coste and Polo, could be found at, yes, Miller’s Outpost. At the time Miller’s and The Gap went head to head for jeans customers.
One store found a way to remake itself in the 80’s and 90’s.
Miller’s may be gone, but long live the Ripper!!