This may seem like chump change to you, but it wasn’t to me.
Recently, for the first time I held an American hundred dollar bill in my hands (in fact, I was holding two. So much the better).
Of course, I’ve held American money in my hands before, but never the hundred. I’m not a big cross-border shopper.
But holding that big, burly greenback in my hand (it’s actually kind of blue), I saw, finally, what all the fuss was about.
I stared at the big bill, and Benjamin Franklin stared back at me. He also seemed to wink.
“So this is the money that makes the world go ’round,” I said to myself. “So this is the money around which the world goes.”
I’ve held Canadian hundred dollar bills, sometimes piles of them. I’ve held English pound notes, which is a big classy money in its own right. I’ve picked my teeth with paper currency from around the world. But nothing compares to the C-note.
It was almost like a minor religious experience — if there is such a thing as a minor religious experience — except it wasn’t religious at all. Quite the opposite, if you think about it. A fascinating amoral experience.
I felt an electric shiver up my spine, as if all moral obligations, all ideologies, were slipping out my body through the top of my head. It was the most liberating feeling I’ve had in a long time. Benjamin Franklin grinned at me.
“Dude,” I said. “I feel like drilling for oil. Doesn’t matter where.”
“Money,” I said to myself. “Mmmmmm-money. Mmmake Mmmoney. Mmmmore mmmoney.”
I began humming to myself in this pleasant way.
“Wouldn’t it be great,” I thought, “to have many more of these U.S. hundred dollar bills? Just to have them. Just to use this strange electricity to power my house.”
Now, I’ve often thought it would be great to have many more Canadian hundred dollar bills. But my thinking here is along the lines of: “Wouldn’t it be great to have more Canadian hundred dollar bills so I could pay down my credit card?” In this case it was more like: “Wouldn’t it be great to have more American hundred dollar bills so I could make a big mattress with them and lie on it?”
Whether you like the United States and the role it plays in the world or not, no one says no to the greenback. The most unrepentant detractor of the “Great Satan” and its irresistible dance music would happily stuff his or her pockets with American hundred bills if he or she had the opportunity, and not for the purpose of furthering any plot, either, oh no, but just to have that warm feeling of having pockets filled with American money, that great money that makes the world go round, that filthy lucre, that delicious root of all evil.
Benjamin Franklin was openly chuckling at me now. “Mr. Franklin,” I said to the hundred dollar bill. “I have the same hairline as you. I’m going to grow a mullet just like yours, then perhaps I will become a famous polymath, author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat, just like you.”
This is how badly I was being hypnotized by the money.
But that was many days ago, and now those big bills are gone. I did not invest in dot com booms, unbacked paper, housing bubbles, buy up other people’s credit card debt, or other tested financial strategies to make my hundred dollar bills multiply and multiply. Instead, I am left with a pocketful of Canadian coins and rumpled fives. If I can screw up enough of those to make $110 Canadian and change, I can head down to the bank and exchange it for another C-note, and carry on that most excellent conversation with Benjamin Franklin.
Barry Coulter, the Editor of the
Cranbrook Daily Townsman, just needs enough to get by.