Tag Archives: absurdity

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.

Lame Adventure 358: Grumpy Young Man

I work in Tribeca, a picturesque neighborhood in Lower Manhattan lined with ancient cobblestone streets and ornate pre-war buildings radiating character and charm.

Franklin Street

Franklin Street

It is a trendy area housing some of the most expensive real estate on Manhattan Island. This is also a location that’s heavily populated with swells, many of them the name-brand variety.

Authentic cobblestone street.

Authentic cobblestone street.

In mid-afternoon, when I run errands, I encounter pampered youngsters clad in their colorful cold weather togs as they’re being met after school by their trophy wife mothers or their fulltime nannies. Everyone looks fashionably chic until I wend my way through the crowd, upsetting the style balance in my drab uniform, the type of duds that scant wages can afford. Compared to the beautiful mothers in their cutting edge fashions, my modest attire, best suited for office work or captivity, bears a distinct resemblance to offal.

The view out my office window.

The view out my office window.

One area where everyone is equal, at least when outside, is the great outdoors where we all suffer the consequences of the elements. Now that the season is the dead of winter, there have been days when the temperature has been frigid cold. Often, noses and eyes run like faucets.  Even when bundled up, any exposed skin can instantly suffer searing pain.  Therefore, it is best to walk at a quick clip, if only to sooner regain sensation in one’s face.

Bright blue frigid cold sky.

Clear blue frigid cold sky.

On an afternoon when the air was feeling particularly arctic I was walking up Hudson Street toward the pretty Powell building behind a handsome lad that looked to be about six.

Powell Building

Powell Building

He was walking hand-in-hand with his mother, who was in her thirties.  He was wearing a blue parka and bright orange corduroy slacks. Mom was nestled in a floor length shapeless black down coat that looked familiar to me. It brought to mind a sleeping bag with sleeves. She must have missed the winter fashions newsletter. Appropriately, they were walking briskly, but not as brisk as motoring me. Just as I was overtaking them I overheard a snippet of their conversation:

Mom: When we get home I’ll make you a sandwich.


Boy: Shit!  It’s cold!

Although I was thinking the exact same thought myself, overhearing the little man drop the s-bomb was a most unexpected surprise. What really made me feel a bat squeak* of unease was that his mother seemed a-okay with it. I did not hear her admonishing her son in the least.

Had I the nerve to casually bleat that curse in the earshot of my mother when I was six, she surely would have detonated. As a child growing up in the sixties and seventies, an era when you served time rather than take a time out, my mother would have beaten every future utterance of both that word and the substance out of me. A beating that might not have ended until I reached age thirty.

That evening, I dined with my friend, Milton, and recounted what I had heard.

Milton: Are you sure he said “shit”? You know your hearing’s not the greatest.  You could have misheard. Maybe he said another word that sounded like shit?

Me: What word sounds like shit other than shit?

Milton looked perplexed. He suggested:

Milton: Sheeeeeeee ahhhhhhhhhhh taaaaaaa, it’s cold!

Me: That kid didn’t say, “Sheeeeeeee ahhhhhhhhhhh taaaaaaa, it’s cold!” That kid said “shit”. Even my deaf ears know the difference between shit and shinola.

I know shit from Shinola.

Shinola on display in Tribeca.

*Thank you Kate Shrewsday for adding “bat squeak” to my vocabulary.