Thursday, September 20, 2007

It’s All About The Lincolns

Euphemisms for money sometimes puzzle me.

Let’s start out with the simple “big one.” People use “big ones” all the time meaning dollars. I’m not a wealthy man but I would never consider a single dollar bill to qualify for “big one” status.

Using the example of OJ Simpson’s bail amount I would not hesitate to refer to it as 125,000 bucks. 125,000 clams, sure if I was in a “red tide” kind of mood. 125,000 simoleons, um... not so much but either way, that’s a lot of cabbage. It’s not, however, 125,000 “big ones.”

Generally “big one” refers to $1000. This amount is also called “a grand” which makes sense since it is indeed a grand sum for the average Joe.

But there is a trick: it can’t be a “big one,” since there is no “one.” The highest denomination of currency printed for the general public is the $100 bill. Therefore $100 would not be “a big one” but “the big one.” Yet I cannot imagine saying OJ’s bail was 1,250 big ones. It’s just too unwieldy.

While $100 isn’t a satisfactory “big one” it’s a lot of bread so it definitely merits a nickname of its own.

C-note? Nah, too Sam Spade. And besides, who uses Roman numerals anymore except referring to movie copyright dates, Super Bowls, and Rocky movies? And it doesn’t follow suit. You wouldn’t refer to a $50 bill as an L-note or a $20 as an XX-note.

This takes us to the use of “Benjamin.” I like this notion. We honor our statesmen with their portrait on our currency and I often forget this. It’s nice that every time I take a $20 bill from an ATM that I have the opportunity to pause and reflect on the fact that Andrew Jackson defended himself with his cane against a mentally ill man with two pistols in the first attempted assassination of a President of the United States. It’s a CIT sort of thing.

But the common use of “Benjamin” gives me pause. It occurs to me that rap artists owe a lot more to the President on the 5-spot than they do to Mr. Franklin. Before Abraham Lincoln black folks were not able to get paid lots and lots of money to hop their hips.

Ben Franklin was undeniably a great American but “Ending Slavery” will always beat “Invented Bifocals” in the paper-scissors-rock game of historic achievement.

Circling back to my least favorite descendent of slaves, Orenthal J., it would be inelegant to refer to his bail amount as 25,000 Lincolns.

I think the only reasonable nomenclature is the delightfully French metric system. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s ubiquitous: the Juice is loose for $125k and owes the Goldman family $33.4M (which is a lot of tall green).

Vive La Système Métrique!

At least that’s my two Jingly Abes on the subject.


1 comment:

Jas said...

For SHAME! You forgot 'large'.

Large = $1000

So, OJ Needed 125 large.

Yo, for only 6 large I will sell you my pimped out, slightly blood stained white bronco.