Vol. 1, Issue 23, October 21, 2003
Education for the Otiose

The Color of Money

Ezekiel F. Watley, Esq.

There is no Fiction so compelling or so Absolute as that of Money. Mere paper or metal, made Valuable with Words and Pictures - an Astonishing and utterly Imaginative product of human Fancy. It has always been Attractive - be it Coins of glinting Gold, Silver and Copper - largely Useless except as Ornament; at least so it is in Other lands. But our Nation has long been starkly Unimaginative - and our Money has long been grimly Monochromatic, or nearly so; the color of a Military Uniform - a viridescent hue quite unlike the fresh greens of Spring.

I am not abashed to say that, given a choice between these Bills and the equally popular Credit-Cards, I am somewhat old-fashioned, preferring a pouch replete with those nice heavy gold Dollar Coins with the charming Indian girl - I forget her Name, but the Coin that bears her likeness is comfortably like the Sovereigns of Old. I drop them into outstretched Hands when I visit the Coffee-House, when I take a Cab; when the Shoe-Shine lad restores a proper Gleam to my Shoes - all seem to Welcome their gleaming Heft. But alas, they lack the fiduciary Potency to pay most of my Expenses; and I need to rely on common, drab Paper currency.

Opening my Billfold then was like a surprising Dawn; I was taken Aback and at first assumed I had been given Coupons for the Coffee-House again, as was done last Month. But no! - for the gentle, unmistakably artistic Hues glinting in my Wallet were on genuine American bills, placed there by my Secretary upon her return from the Bank. I was so Astonished, I let my Spectacles fall into my Drink. Remarkable!

I turned the Bill this way and That, marveling at the shockingly Pastel hues of the American Eagle; the free-spirited portrait of Andrew Jackson, burst free from the staid Confines of his portrait-frame; I marvel at the touch of Copper in the iridescent Number in the corner. This is not mere Currency, it is Art.

And Art bodes Well for our Nation! - for I cannot help but notice that the grim March of Progress that has made of our nation a humorless Goliath coincides with the slow tread of decades powered by our dully utilitarian Currency. If money is Fiction, then its expression is surely a Window to the Soul; and I hope this remarkably free-spirited incarnation of this Pillar of American Society bespeaks a fresh breath of Imagination, of looking beyond our Shores and our Selves.

Stride forth, America! Let this gentle hint of Grace herald a turning-point. I shall lead the way by giving one of these marvelous Bills to the Shoe-Shine lad. I suspect he could use both artistic Inspiration and an extra Twenty.

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