I need a dollar

Dollar bill I was nine. He was geeky, shy and a tad strawberry blonde. It was after gym class in a small Swiss village. We were all outside the hall, heading home one early autumn day. Suddenly, a crowd gathered around him excitedly. Pascal was his name. And in his hand was something I’d never seen before in real life: a dollar bill. One whole dollar!

Only that one time in my life have I ever wanted to rob someone blind. A veil descended on my brain as I was taken over by the animalistic urges often seen in wolf packs or lion prides, where the strongest eat and the weakest die. Without any qualms or care for the morals of the situation, I was obsessed by the thought, stuck in that moment:  to take that dollar bill and run, making it mine forever.

I hasten to admit that I am not proud of that. Before and since, I have been a relatively upstanding citizen. One who has dutifully avoided the practise of armed robbery or ATM mugging and always hands back money that falls on the floor to its rightful owner. But in my defence, I was labouring under certain misconceptions about the value of money at the time. Of the dollar, to be precise.

You see in my head, the dollar was what came after the million and the billion. “It goes millions, billions and then dollars, right?” At least that’s what I’d grasped from the movies, otherwise why would gangsters be framing each other for dollars in the first place?

Dollar… the word sounded important, rich and definitive. Imagine for a second that, in a parallel universe, I was right… that boy was holding in his hand the key to my future. A future where I would not have to go to school, take exams or tidy up after myself ever again!

All I had to do was ask him if I could touch the green bill and then grab it and run. Simple. Thankfully, I had neither the guts nor the inclination to go through with what was evidently a cunning and watertight plan worthy of Danny Ocean. I also narrowly avoided the humiliation of having to hand back the loot and apologise, the social exclusion only possible in tiny villages as well as the hilarity that would have likely ensued for years to come at my lack of financial knowledge.

I mulled over the incident for a few hours in a state of confusion and shame, eventually approaching my mother that evening to understand how a boy my age could be in possession of such fortune. That conversation set me straight and probably puzzled my mother a little. And that’s how the markets closed on a piece of my childhood fantasy world, where dollars were the golden grail.

I have never forgotten it this incident. I smile every time I hold a dollar bill in my hands and for a second feel like the richest girl in the world. As for poor unsuspecting Pascal, well I just hope he never reads this blog…

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About monicaheck
Monica Heck is a bilingual freelance writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

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