Monday, 25 June 2012

Nickel, Nickel, Quarter, Quarter, Penny

There's a bit in a rather unloved American Eighties film, in which Danny De Vito shows Billy Crystal his coin collection. From out of a box De Vito spills a handful of coins, and arranges them on the floor carefully (why, I wonder, do I remember these characters lying together on the floor?). 'This one's a nickel...This one is also a nickel,' etc, spreading them out, until all the coins are in this sacred uniform line. Nickel, nickel, quarter, quarter, penny. How many times, we wonder, has De Vito's character enacted this secret little ceremony? But are these coins actually worth anything, the Billy Crystal character wants to know. De Vito then explains that these are the coins his father let him keep, how his father always let him keep the change.

It occurs to me that we all do this, writers especially. Taking something as banal and everyday as pocket change and making it meaningful. That is, we hold things sacred by arranging them like so, sharing them, savouring them, and saying, 'Here. Look. Look what we're missing.'

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