Lame Adventure 396: The Boomeranging Jackass Dollar

World-class hothead Alec Baldwin may have won his case against his stalker, but meanwhile, The Boomeranging Jackass Dollar has been stalking me.

George Washington's new look.

What’s in my wallet.

I am not sure how it originally landed in my wallet, but I vaguely recall spending it in my go-to grocery store, Fairway. A day or two later I noticed that it was back in my billfold. So, I spent it again: this time at Duane Reade. That cashier gave me a funny look when I deftly added it atop a pile of cash while purchasing a bottle of 150 Tums, the large economy size commonly referred to in my hovel as a three-day supply. A few days later, that bespectacled buck had somehow bounced back into my wallet again prompting me to wonder:

Me: Did I check my sanity at the door?

I consciously made sure to spend it once more at Fairway, the likely source of where I got it in the first place. About a week later, I was organizing the cash in my wallet from large bills — that’s an oblique reference to a lone five — down to singles, when I noticed that it was back in my wallet. I realized that this single had appeared in my billfold no less than three times in the span of two weeks. Possibly, it’s been nesting there every day since March, but I only roused from my stupor and began noticing it in November.

Like a stray cat that continually appears on a doorstep, this one particular bill is a barnacle to my wallet. Why is that? Why is this dollar stalking me? Is this a common occurrence that’s usually invisible because most cash I carry lacks an honored statesman buried under scribble? Is this dollar sending me a message? Some might say my worldview leans in the direction of skeptical but after deep reflection lasting the length of a sneeze, I concluded that nothing meaningful is happening here. This trinity of occurrences is just odd coincidence. Nothing creepy is going on; my wallet is not making sinister threats, nor do I wake in the middle of the night to find this dollar lying on the pillow next to me.

Last week I decided that I would unload it at my laundromat. As I was pouring my detergent, I had an epiphany. Is it possible that whoever defaced this dollar defaced several others and these dollars are floating all over the Upper West Side? I may not be getting the same dollar over and over again, but possibly it’s one in a series.

I concluded that I have been wasting far too much of what’s left of my mind dwelling on this dollar taking semi-permanent residency in my wallet for half a month. I approached the clerk to exchange it for four quarters. Just as I was about to do this transaction, the Voice In My Head suddenly screamed:

Voice In My Head: Banksy!

That grabbed my full attention. The elusive UK-based street artist spent the entire month of October in New York City setting up a different installation every day of the month throughout the five boroughs. One day, he had a stand on Central Park West where people could have purchased his drawings to the tune of $60 a pop. His art has sold for six figures. Very few pedestrians walking past that stand noticed. Only ten drawings were sold and easily one million bargain lusting New Yorkers were left banging their heads against the wall as they whined about this missed opportunity to win the art lottery.


No way would I disregard my close encounter with this art world renegade. This dollar could provide the windfall of my dreams, or the cost of a can of gourmet tuna. Excited, I did an Internet search and discovered zilch about Banksy defacing any currency on his visit. Furthermore, after I wiped the delusion out of my eyes, I admitted that this is not his style in the least. Forced to accept brutal reality, I admit defeat. This defaced currency is the handiwork of a bored twit with a ballpoint pen. Someone oblivious to this factoid:

Don't mess with George!

Redundant phrasing urging don’t get caught messing with George.

For the time being it sits on my writing table. When I next visit my family in California, I will take it with me and spend it there. If months later it finds its way back to me like a lost spaniel that has journeyed thousands of miles to reunite with its owner, then I pledge that I will frame The Boomeranging Jackass Dollar. If I forget this oath, figure I’ll probably unload it on zucchini at Fairway.

86 responses to “Lame Adventure 396: The Boomeranging Jackass Dollar

  1. Fascinating post, V. The Banksy video reminds me of the video of Joshua Bell playing his Strad in the D.C. Metro.
    And I do think that dollar is stalking. No coincidence whatsoever! I suppose if you were really curious, you could write down the serial number on the bill and check it the next time it shows up.


  2. A number of theories might present themselves as plausible explanations for your BJAD. (Question is Jack Ass 2 words or simply Jackass?) I digress.

    1. It is possible you only think you’ve been spending this dollar, when in fact it never left your wallet.

    2. A society of at least one repressed artist is, as you have pointed out, defaced our first president’s visage on a series of bills. This is certainly not unheard of, see . I’ve participated in this exercise a few times. At least 3 separate occasions that I can recall.

    3. You’ve unwittingly stepped onto the set of a new Twilight Zone episode and the BJAD IS actually stalking you. In this case I suggest a ceremonial burning of the possessed non-specie of the realm.

    4. You have fallen victim to a gang of rogue Treasury Agents with not enough to do since the creation of my employer, DHS, some decade ago. They are secretly returning defaced currency to that person (you) they believe is responsible for said defacing. They are cataloging each occurrence of you’re using the dollar and will be presenting their case to a federal grand jury next month. As your wingman and non-paid non-attorney, I advise you to flee to Venezuela or some other country with whom the US does not have an extradition treaty.


    • Jackass is one word. I’m surprised that a pedant like you would not know this and I would also think you tuned into the Johnnie Knoxville series a time or two hundred. I was not a fan.

      1. As fantastical as this tale must sound (or read), I definitely noticed myself spending it on every occasion mentioned, but the problem is my utter oblivion every time I got it back. The frequency of this is making me think that the Upper West Side of Manhattan is the urban equivalent of Hooterville.

      2. Where’s George has appeared on this site. I have also participated.

      3. Me burn money? Shirley, you jest! Did you blank on my wages: a potato and health insurance?

      4. I suspected from the get-go that you government-types were somehow behind my torment.


  3. Gotta tell you that at first I though you made the video .. of course I wondering why you stayed there so long recording. 🙂 … I was going to suggest a long subway trip to spend the dollar, but SF is even better. Good luck. At least you have time to plan for the frame.


  4. The only decent thing to do is donate it to charity. You still have my mailing address, don’t you?


  5. That is hilarious! You will have to do a follow up post. In the meantime, you’ve immortalized the doodled dollar in a photo!


  6. I heard about Banksy watching Colbert one night. I can’t believe he set up shop and sold his work for $60, which just goes to show, no one really knows “true art” until someone points at it and says — “This is true art. This piece will now sell for sixty go zillion eleventy dollars.” Had you known, you could’ve taken the dollar bill to Banksy and he perhaps could have added a squiggle that would’ve made your stalker bill a true work of art.

    Maybe buy a lotto ticket with it? Could be it keeps showing up in your life for a reason. Do you feel as if the eyes of GW on the bill follow you? Listen, V. Listen to the voice of your bill. Ohm.


    • As far as I can tell, Brig, it’s a non-speaking bill but if GW did talk, I am sure it would follow Michigan J. Frog’s lead and be as silent as the dead when I’d try to get it to perform in front of anyone else. Banksy is a mystery man and much about him remains secret including his identity. Reaching him personally for a squiggle is not likely to happen. He has also left NYC. The $60 deal was for one day. The other thirty days of October he was up to other antics. I have never bought a lottery ticket in my life; something else I feel cynical about. Milton is certain that out here everything is rigged.


  7. From my perspective as a former cashier, that’s intriguing that you kept getting the same dollar back, V., if it is the same dollar. Also, Banksy’s drawings are way better than the alterations on George. Moreover, Banksy’s not getting a sale until 3:30 in the afternoon, sitting there surrounded by such superior artwork, just goes to prove that it’s not for lack of quality or talent that our books aren’t selling better; it’s just that people keep walking past them without noticing. The Fussy Librarian, incidentally, will feature my “Begins the Night Music” on Nov. 27.


    • That’s great Samantha! Recently I found a copy of my own book in a sneaker box. How it got there I have no idea, but I thought there was a metaphor about my sales in the placement.

      That dollar may not have always come back from me from the same store, but I strongly feel I got it at least twice from Fairway, but I never noticed when I got it back; only that it was back. If only I was stalked by the money tree instead.


      • Speaking of books in shoeboxes and of unopened boxes, some time ago I ordered a box (small) of my books from CreateSpace and after they arrived, promptly forgot about them, that I had ordered them to sell around town. I am going to offer them for sale at our town Christmas market, though, and am considering reading a chapter at one of our Opera House open mic events, and offering them for sale there. This means I have to stand on a stage, though, and that makes me nervous because the audience (probably all 30 of them) are sitting there looking at me.

        Re being stalked by a money tree, hadn’t we heard that the top one percent has got them all locked behind a stockade fence in an offshore corral someplace?


        • I thought tey were all being hoarded around Wall Street.

          If stage fright gets the better of you, maybe you should pre-record your voice and then lip sync?


          • Funny. I just may do that. Actually I rather enjoy being the center of attention (hopefully not ridicule) — it happens so rarely. It’s just the idea of being on a STAGE.

            Oh, and while I’m at it, saw “Melancholia” last night. My take: It was OK. Three stars. A middlin’ what-if scenario. I think, though, that if Justine wouldn’t have had to wear that damned uncomfortable dress for such a protracted period of time and if that mundane party hadn’t dragged on for so long, the whole picture would have been happier. And why did she beat a dead horse?

            I did like the 2 Bettys touch, though. That was real. Also, a token role for John Hurt, who deserves so much more.

            My thoughts were with John Hurt’s character — take the spoons and let’s get out of here.

            Milton may well have a different viewpoint.


  8. Funny post.


  9. Sort of like the bad penny. Maybe you have a mutant version of the Where’s George bill. I had one of those.

    If not, you can get an account and track your Funny Face George excursions.


    • Yes, I have encountered Where’s George bills. That site made a guest appearance here somewhere in these almost 400 Lame Adventures. It seems the bills I track end up in the Dead Bill File. I take it personally.


  10. I agree with Brigitte above, there is a reason this dollar keeps finding you and won’t leave you alone until you find it’s purpose. Maybe a lottery ticket, maybe just the most exceptional zucchini at the Fairway. Hard to tell.


  11. I love a nerdy mystery. When you laid out the setup, my mind immediately went to the “multiple copies” theory, but I like the Banksy theory a lot.

    Confession: I am a regular defacer of bills. I love to track bills via “Where’s George.” As I said earlier, I am a nerd.

    This was a lot of fun.


  12. I love a good, nerdy mystery. Upon reading the setup, my mind immediately went to the “multiple copies” theory. However, I like your Banksy theory better!

    I have to confess that I am a regular defacer of bills. I track bills on As I have said, I am a nerd.

    This was a lot of fun. And given that you don’t have a car and walk pretty much everywhere you go, are you sure you even NEED the bike? It doesn’t take you anywhere!


    • Hey, this kinda/sorta published twice (that happened to me while writing a comment on a site last week). I think cycling to nowhere while living in the most dynamic city in the world fits me well, especially while I’m being stalked by funny money.


  13. Write down the serial number and keep spending.
    What if you did wake up with the dollar sleeping on your pillow?! That would be bad!


  14. Great story telling!!!

    Have you ever tried papaya enzymes?



  15. I remember reading about Banksy in the paper and thinking Damn… If only.

    Boomerang jackass… Story of our lives eh?


  16. How strange! I had heard about the Banksys not selling–or barely selling. If only I had been there to buy a few. And that dollar–interesting to make the Banksy association. Any chance they might have a few of those magic dollars floating around here in Cuenca. The US dollar is the currency.

    Hugs from Ecuador,


    • Next to no one was there to buy much of any of those art works, Kathy, and even those that did make purchases probably were not aware of who’s art they were purchasing. To them one can only say, “Score!”

      I think Cuenca’s magic dollars are all wearing fedoras. Look harder at what’s in your wallet.

      Hugs from Manhattan,


  17. Back in the 1960s I remember a machine at Coney Island where you could put in a penny (and also pay a dime), then pull a lever that would operate a stamping press, and the penny (if you had oriented it correctly) would pop out with an engraving showing Lincoln smoking a pipe!

    I have no idea if anyone was ever apprehended…



  18. That’s exactly what I was thinking as I read… jot down the serial no. There could be a multitude of bespectacled dollar bills around… as many as Banksy’s works left in NYC, unnoticed. As for the stall, how sure can one be that those are official trademarked products of the infamous artist? They could be some bespectacled reproductions. No?


    • Arti, if you click the long hyperlink in this post, that will take you to Banksy’s web site devoted to the art and installation he displayed on each of the 31 days he was in New York City in October. The YouTube video of the stall is dared October 13, so the artworks are official. If, while keeping the Boomeranging Jackass Dollar here on my writing table, I get a second Jackass Dollar, then we’ll know for certain that there are indeed other bespectacled bucks bopping around. And very likely a sequel to this post. On that note, I think I just heard the sound of half my followers fleeing!


  19. Now I wish we had come to New York during October. What a fantastic stunt for Banksy to pull! Your dollar: we are all fascinated. Now I am frenetically Googling information on the circulation of currency. What are the chances of your dollar popping up all those times?


    • I was wondering the same thing. Is this common but we’re unaware because who bothers to note serial numbers? If you had visited in October and had seen that table with Banksy’s art, I suspect that the old guy serving as the seller might not have known so if queried by an intrepid type like you he might have been vague about the provenance. Then Phil would have said, “Are you crazy? We’re not blowing $60 on knockoff Banksy!” What might you have done then?


  20. I recently learned of Banksy from Kathy McCullough and now he appears in NY and is mostly ignored. Sad day for him and the art world.

    As for your dollar. I’m a skeptic and I think it’s different bills. But the believer in me wants to believe. Can we test it and write down the serial number and then see what happens. And if it’s the same one, maybe I should start believing in Santa Claus again. Not sure how they connect, but they do in my head.

    Now it’s time for me to eat some tums.


    • That’s interesting that you had to rely on an American living in Ecuador to learn about this modern day British institution when you’re living in (or it near?) London yourself. You probably walk Miles past Banksy street art daily.


      • Well when you put it that way, I feel silly. But it shows the power of blogging. I can’t walk Miles in the actual city though. He hates the red buses. We go to a park and play fetch every day. Haven’t noticed any street art there, but will keep an eye out.


  21. I think someone is messing with you. And it’s working.


  22. “Is this dollar sending me a message?”
    The answer is, yes. George is telling you that you need 1 million more just like him. So take him to the bodega and buy a lottery ticket. 🙂


  23. Miles loves people. Hates other dogs. I’m the owner who has to say, “Sorry my dog can’t play with yours. Can you leave us alone?” And then the other owner says, “but my dog is so friendly.” Yep, but mine isn’t, so back off and don’t think of suing.


  24. Wow! Cool stuff only happens to talented writers because the universe knows I’d just screw the story up somehow. Very funny tale.


  25. Great post V. I like to think of it as a fantastic coincidence. You are over-thinking this.
    Maybe even an early Christmas miracle? Or even a reminder that Christmas is close and you only have a dollar saved up.


  26. You have a haunted dollar! How fun. I have a friend once post her phone number on a bill. No one called her, but 5 years later she got the same bill back. I don’t know what it means, but some things stick around because they are meant to.


  27. Oh my…I love this post! LOVE IT!


  28. I would guess that very few people use actual cash these days, most preferring cards. If you routinely shop in the same stores with cash it seems likely you would get your same dollar back as change on the next visit if it sat on top the pile and nobody else had used cash since your last visit there. Spending it in California ought to do the trick so long as you don’t return to the store you spend it at later in your visit.


    • That is a very good point. Debit cards are very popular. Of course, it is possible that when I spend it in California it will boomerang into my sister’s wallet and then possibly, my bro-in-law’s and niece’s. It’s foreseeable that this jackass dollar is destined to be in my family for the long haul.


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