Sep 25, 2009, 08:38AM

What $20 can get you

There isn't anything that can't be had for the right price.

WHEN IT COMES TO THE LANGUAGE OF MONEY, credit cards are nouns. Dull, concrete, limited by rules and restrictions and creepy fine print, credit cards have all the flan of aluminum foil. Personal checks--the coward's stand-in for cash--are ugly and static pronouns. But a twenty-dollar bill, now, that's a thing of beauty. Nothing static about a twenty. Used correctly, a twenty is all about movement, access, cachet. Forget the other bills. The single won't get you much more than a stiff nod and, these days, the fin is de rigueur. A tenner is a nice thought, but it's also a message that you're a Wal-Mart shopper, too cheap for the real deal. A twenty, placed in the right hand at the right moment, makes things happen. It gets you past the rope, beyond the door, into the secret files. The twenty hastens and chastens, beckons and tugs. The twenty, you see, is a verb. It's all about action. $$ And me, well, I'm all about action, too, because I am the original twenty-dollar millionaire. Give me a stack of twenties and I'll pass them off as well as any mogul. Maybe better. My fortune rises and falls with the double sawbuck. And because of that, I've always wanted to test myself, to establish the weight and worth of a twenty in the world. So last month I took two grand in twenties, rolled them up, and left for New York. I was going to spend three days greasing palms from gate to gate and see what it got me. $$ I'm not talking about buying here, by the way. When it comes to things with a price tag, a twenty doesn't get you much. You could open one of those stores called EVERYTHING FOR $20, and who the fuck would go in there? Who needs a bunch of art calendars and T-shirts? No one wants to spend a twenty. It's a fair amount of money, for one thing. And it won't get you much, for another. Not in the way of merchandise, anyway. No, you have to give the twenty. Pass it, release it. This is about as much Zen as I can muster: Stuff your pockets full of twenties and doors will open by themselves.


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