I was recently at Dodger Stadium with some friends. One offered me a Dodger ticket, someone else bought the beer so it was my turn. “It’s my turn” to spread the wings of my situational generosity.
Want two Dodger Dogs? How about throwing in some rough peanuts. Several bottles of cold water too.
I waited in line and when it was my turn I gave them my order. Who cares what it costs? I had a somewhat unusual $100 bill and I was ready to burn it like autumn leaves.
If there had been a cartoon speech bubble, it would have read, “Look at me, I have a $100 bill.” I slid the note onto the metal counter. Mr. Hundred Dollar Bill was open for business and business was booming.
“I’m sorry, we don’t take money at Dodger Stadium,” the hairnet waitress said, in her friendly but firm voice.
You don’t take money? Not even that new $100 bill? Go ahead, feel it. It’s the smell of success. Someone who has climbed the mountain and planted their flag on top.
The waiter slipped me the $100 bill like it was a hot dog wrapper. As if it were the envelope of a used tamal. Like it was a credit union deposit receipt for last month’s paycheck.
I picked up the ticket, held it lovingly between my thumb and forefinger, folded it up, and put it back in the front right pocket of my game shorts.
I reached into the other pocket for a Visa card. The fun of buying dogs for the boys had disappeared like a sunset in the Pacific Ocean. A credit card is no fun, it has no personality or history.
Hundred dollar bills are for bigwigs, commodity brokers, pipe sellers, and drug dealers. Hundred dollar bills are the bread and butter of the “don’t tell anybody where I got it” cash economy.
A $100 bill was exciting, it was like, “Oh Lordy.” A $100 was something and that something wasn’t used to being swiped at an unwanted, untaken and unspent hot dog stand.
Do you realize that this $100 bill came from a wad? Or it could have come from a wad if I had had a wad. There could have been more where it came from if there had been more where it came from.
Do you realize that you have just shot a fiery arrow into the windy but delicate male psyche? The men love their wads, peeling cash from their wads in front of often silent people.
“I can’t believe how much money this guy has. He’s drunk.”
By saying no to cash, you are playing with history and tradition. Playing with dads coming home from work and putting their money clips or wallets full of crispy green bills on their dressers as their admiring sons look on who might peel off a bill or two when their dad is halfway through his second gin and tonic.
It’s cash for a school lunch or a dollar for donuts on a Saturday morning after cutting the grass.
What about the $20 you found in your inside coat pocket that you didn’t know you had? It’s worth nothing? I can’t spend this anymore?
What would Uncle John say, the man who gave us a dollar before we left his house because he thought a child should always have money on him because you never know.
A few weeks ago I played Monopoly with Andrew, our 7 year old grandson. At the start of the game, each player receives two $500 bills, two $100 bills, two $50 bills, six $20 bills and five bills of $10, $5 and $1 each.
In the first game, Andrew’s strategy was to keep all his money and not buy any property. He liked the feel of the cash, the big stack in front of him. I kept silent. Boardwalk is nice but I know how he feels.
Email contributing columnist Herb Benham at [email protected] His column appears here on Sundays; The opinions expressed are his own.
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