MJ’s Musings: “Do You Have Change for a Twenty?”

I dread having someone ask me this question.

People like me, who use ATMs, always have too many twenty dollar bills.  I’m fortunate that my bank’s ATM has an option with $5 increments, so when I withdraw cash, I make sure it’s $35 or $55 or $75 dollars. (If you take out $95, you get a $50, which sucks worse than a $20, especially since the McDonald’s next door will no longer accept $50 or $100 bills .)

So yeah, I usually do have change for a twenty in my wallet.

But if I make change for you, then I’m stuck with your $20, which defeats the purpose of my banking strategy.  And lately, it seems as if I’m asked if I can break a twenty a lot.

I need to start lying, and others need to change banks.

Something Else I Don’t Get

Several years ago, when X-Chromo was still in high school, I attended some sort of awards breakfast. I ended up sitting with a woman who lives around the corner from me, and with whom I had butted heads–in a very minor way–on several occasions when our daughters were in middle school. X and this woman’s daughter were not friends. They weren’t enemies, but they travelled in different circles with different priorities.

I had heard this mother was “never the same” after she suffered a head injury in an auto accident. Because of that, I always tried to be compassionate.  Even when our ideas about how to improve the schools were at odds, I tried. So maybe this head injury is behind the explanation of what I don’t get.

Back to the breakfast. “Jane” sat with me, probably because I was a familiar face. Like our daughters, we were not friends. She started chatting. That was good. I’m lousy at small talk. It’s a skill I’ve never learned. Somehow, a discussion of the school dress code came up. “Jane” started spouting off about, of all things, high heels. About how her daughter wanted to wear high heels and it just wasn’t right. And a ban against high heels needed to be added to the dress code. On several occasions, she’d caught her daughter trying to sneak out of the house wearing high heels and that was something young girls should not be wearing.

I happened to see her daughter on line at the buffet–wearing a spaghetti strapped tank top and shorts cut up to her hoo-ha (both violations of the dress code, but she was a jock so it was overlooked). And her mother was worried about high heels?

I don’t get it.

One of My Finer Moments

A former co-worker recently passed away. There were many heartfelt tributes to him on social media, all of them well-deserved. He really was a good person.

However, we did have a couple of points where our views on life could not have been further apart. One of them was the ERA–the Equal Rights Amendment. As far as I could tell, my co-worker thought women should be kept barefoot and pregnant.

On June 30th, 1982, the ERA “died”. Not enough states add ratified the amendment to the constitution within the deadline or the three-year extension it was given.

On July 1, 1982, the front page of the local morning newspaper featured a photo of my co-worker raising the American flag at a celebration of the demise of the hoped-for amendment. He took a lot of ribbing that morning. Even I patted him on the back. But as I did so, I was also taping a handwritten KICK ME sign there.

Other co-workers laughed. Hours passed before someone told him about it. He was good natured about it. As I said, he really was a good person at his core.

Who Invented “Birthstones?”

A few weeks back, I started wondering where the idea of “birthstones” came from. To me, it sounded like a marketing ploy invented by a greeting card company.

Turns out I was wrong. Sort of.

The origins are Biblical. Old Testament Biblical. The Book of Exodus describes the breastplate of Aaron as having twelve stones, one for each of the Tribes of Israel. Sardius*, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, ligure**, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper.

Both Flavius Josephus (1st century AD) and St. Jerome (5th century AD) made the connection between the 12 stones in the Breastplate and the 12 signs of the zodiac. Naturally, this connection evolved. Some early cultures believed you should wear the stone corresponding to the current month. In 18th century Poland, the idea that a person should wear the stone corresponding to the month of their birth was born. The modern list of stones was standardized in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers–not a greeting card company.

  • *believed to be either ruby or carnelian.
  • ** possibly an orange zircon