There comes a time in every young person’s life at which the question of sanity arises. My time was last Saturday … when I found myself debating with a $10 bill.
I purchased a candy bar at the local Generic Mart. I gave the lady at the checkout a $20 bill and she gave me back $10 and some change. I walked out of the store and as I was shoving my change back in my wallet, a little voice piped up from my pocket.
“Hey hey hey! Down here!”
I glanced down. I glanced around. I glanced at my feet. Maybe I misheard.
“Nah, you’re lookin’ too low! Look in your wallet and my place will be clear.”
Befuddled, I did as the voice instructed. Sure enough, after riffling through my wallet, I found the source of the bossy voice. It was a $10 bill. I was being bossed around by a $10 bill – no, the founding father printed on the $10 bill. I was being bossed around by Alexander Hamilton. I gasped as my sanity went into question.
Little green Hamilton looked up at me in relief, as if he was happy not to be staring at the inside of my wallet any longer. “Not to be a bother, questionin’, wonderin’, lookin’ for the truth, but there’s this problem that’s been troublin’ the youth. Ya see, for 155 years, I’ve been ten dollars’ worth of candy… but now I’m scared from what happened to Andy.”
“Wait…” I glared at the bill. “You’re afraid because Andrew Jackson, the Indian-hating slave owner, will be replaced on the $20 bill by the amazing abolitionist woman, Harriet Tubman? She led thousands of slaves to their freedom but should not replace the Architect of the Trail of Tears? But you’re just scared you’re next, huh? Also…are you rapping?”
“That is the conclusion and besides, you may be arguin’ with a delusion.” I once again questioned my sanity. He continued, “I established the national bank, thus my face should take rank and I should be thanked in some way such as the say on how people pay in this day.”
I say, “‘Go girls!’ Finally, we’re getting some recognition. You should be replaced – especially if by a woman. Heck, I vote Eleanor Roosevelt. She was a human rights activist and the longest serving First Lady. You, Hamilton, are neither of those things.”
“No, I just took America out of debt, but little must you fret, it’s not recognition I must get.”
I continued to debate with the little Hamilton. “The only reason you’re still on the bill is because of your following, the Broadway crazed community. If it wasn’t for your fans – or should I say Lin-Manuel Miranda’s fans – you would be off that $10 bill in an instant. That’s wrong.”
Hamilton smiled, as if knowing that I, too, after years of theater involvement would fit into this category. It was as if he knew about the entire “Hamilton” soundtrack downloaded to my phone. He crossed his print arms. “To this I have concern, for I’ve learned not to yearn for approval to be continually earned from the masses. Eventually, I’ll be burned.”
“Yet another point! You don’t even trust the people! If it was up to you, the only people to vote on the bill would be the people with a hefty wallet and a few diplomas on their wall.”
“This is correct. In effect, the only thing to protect my gained respect is the direction of the affection or rejection of that Broadway perfection. In a few words, this is the theater of the absurd…”
“Welcome to America, the place where entertainment decides everything. But, the end result still remains. A feminist parade won’t come marching, blockading, and looting just yet. Harriet the Great will still replace Jackson the Not-So-Great on the $20 bill. Soon enough, we’ll be buying candy bars with the woman who bought thousands of people their freedom. But even if this is a win for women, it still feels wrong. The way this situation was handled, the concept of your accomplishments, Jackson’s fallacies, or the necessity of feminine recognition was never even brought into the debate. It was the fact of our society’s craze over ‘Hamilton’, a play by Lin-Manuel Miranda, that made ‘Hamilton, historical figure’ into ‘Hamilton, pop icon.’ It was only then people stood behind you. Pop culture should not be the deciding factor in government –”
“ – and besides, if we had pop culture running everything, we would end up with Kim Kardashian on the $20 bill, Justin Bieber in Congress – ”
“ – and Donald Trump for president?”
We both chuckled at his joke. Ten Dollar Hamilton decided he had to go tell his friend, One Dollar George all about it.
“You’re in the clear, my little friend,” I started. “At least until pop culture changes its mind.”
“If I’m not – ”
I grinned at the paper in my hands, “Then I’m sure you’ll be popping back up on my currency.”
“As we end, apprehend what you spend your little friend on. I won’t take offense to any expense on, say, a day on Hamilton on Broadway?”
I smiled as we said our goodbyes and placed the $10 bill back into my wallet. As I did this, I once more questioned my sanity. I had just debated with the headstrong Alexander Hamilton in money form… and I think I won.