You’re catching on that these money issues are much livelier than business and economics commentators seem to believe.
When you examine legal tender, you observe that one side usually presents a human face — “heads,” as you call out in a coin toss.
So what about the other side?
Months after one discussion group had ended its sessions, the participants still found themselves running fresh insights past one another. Fortunately, many of us headed out on Sunday afternoons for an informal dinner at a nearby chowder house. Reminding them of our rather unsuccessful look at cash itself, I broached the question: “Have you ever wondered why it’s heads-and-tails, rather than heads-or-feet, or even faces-or-backs?”
The other adults around the table gave me blank stares, but 11-year-old Bridget piped up, “Because it’s an animal!”
The stares shifted in her direction.
“Huh, what are you talking about?” her mother asked.
“No, she’s right,” I insisted, and animated discussion ensued.
Technically, you can argue that the heads-and-tails expression arises from the buffalo nickel. But I think that misses the gastrointestinal reality of money issues. After all, as Robert Sardello observes, Sigmund Freud in 1908 “declared that money was more like excrement than gold. We speak of dirty money, filthy lucre, the smell of cash. … Money matters have a dirty side; … and I for one admire those who are not afraid to get their hands dirty.”
The connection should be obvious. Money is perceived, at some level, as a four-legged animal.
Put bluntly, it shits.
Modern psychotherapy often labors to bring hidden memories to the surface. To explore cash, then, you must delve into the underworld of your subconscious. As you’ve already noticed, whenever coins are present, you are dealing with many emotions.
Reflecting more on that animal nature, we can ask:
But what kind? Dog? Fox? Cow? Gator? Rat?
Domesticated? Caged? Or wild and free?
Could it be an animal without legs, such as a snake, fish, or — as slang has long insisted — clams?
If heads reflect an idealism regarding currency’s use, do the images of tails then lead you to animalistic desires and needs?