Money was first called “Filthy Lucre,” (the Bible) especially when regarded as sordid or distasteful or gained in a dishonorable way.

Some day, it may wind up being called “Donald,” as in, “Hey, can you loan me a Donald?”

Money is anything that is commonly accepted by a group of people in exchange for goods or services, like beer and wine, sex, tips, and mocha lattes at Starbucks. Read more: People used metal objects as money to exchange goods and services as early as 5,000 B.C. It’s said that Charlton Heston was the first human (see the Bible) to carry cash.

Filthy lucre — moolah, cash, green money — has had a dozen names but sadly, money as we have known it has fallen out of fashion. A recent survey on local streets showed that almost every grown up prefers the card to cash.

As usual, guys my age, especially those as I am in the final stages of middle age, learned everything we know at the movies.

For example, I learned how to properly dunk doughnuts in coffee from Clark Gable in “It Happened One Night.” Didn’t you?

I learned how to impress a girl by slipping a roll of bills out of my pocket (20 ones wrapped up in a twenty) the way the old movie gangsters used to do, as James Gandolfini did as Tony Soprano.

I did this to pay for two burger baskets at the Velvet Freeze on Grand and Chippewa, where I went with my first paycheck.

Saloon owner Skeeter O’Neil, who happened to be there, whispered in my ear.

“You got a job now I see.”

“I do.”

“I’ll tell you what I told your five brothers. You won’t have that cash long if you keep flashing it like that, you get my point?”

“I get your point.”

“You wanna give it your mother, cause you’re old enough now to pay board. You get my point?

“I get your point.”

George H.W. Bush reportedly said, “New money is old money that got away.”

My brother Jug always said, “They say money can’t buy happiness…but you can rent.”

That’s how I learned everything in life, from the movies, my five brothers and from street people like Skeeter. Money: It’s not how much you’ve got; it’s how you carry it. You get my point?

Fancy actors like Paul Henreid, Vincent Price and Clifton Webb always carried their cash in nice leather wallets inside gorgeously tailored suits.

Bogart, Cagney, Johnny Garfield, street kids like I was, simply carried a crumpled ball of fresh green bills stuffed in their pockets.

“Here, kid, go get yourself sumpin’ nice,” they’d say to their girl, then toss a couple bills on the table and walk away. That is where I learned about class.

It seems that no one uses actual paper money anymore. It’s all about credit cards. “It’s all plastic now,” Joe said. Not really. I looked it up.

They used to be celluloid plastic, then metal and fiber, then paper. Now they’re mostly polyvinyl chloride. See what you learn when you read me?

I only just became fluent in card transactions. She, who up to now always held a firm hand on things financial, would never allow me or my daughters to actually carry them. She’d say, “Give your father a credit card, and he’ll buy a new car.”

She’s an old fashioned girl.

But here are we in the “New Normal,” where cash is trash. So I’ve finally been given my very own Visa to carry. You can’t imagine how thrilling that is for a Depression Baby.

There is her infamous Discover card, of course. It’s still in her desk drawer. I saw it there yesterday while looking for a paper clip, but I would not dare actually touch it. I wouldn’t get far with it if I did take it.

It knows her touch, and in other hands, it might scream. You get my point?

I’m a little low now, do you think you could loan me a few “Donalds?”

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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