While stopped at a traffic light on Kirby Blvd. today, this SUV pulled up alongside me and honked at me. I looked over, and the SUV was full of teenage girls who were grinning and obviously had something to say to me. So I rolled down my window, and they said "MST3K rocks!" They'd seen the MST3K bumper stickers I have on the back of my car; they both feature the famous silhouette of Mike and the bots in their seats, and one says "MOVIE SIGN!" and the other says "JOIN US!" I smiled back at them and gave them a thumbs-up. They said, "We met Mike Nelson!" I responded, "Oh, cool!" Then the light turned green and we drove away.
Before I describe the second incident today, I must describe what I refer to as "freeing up my money". I've always been annoyed by the religious bias on U.S. currency. All coins have four phrases on them:
The United States of America --- the name of our country.
Liberty --- what makes this nation truly great.
E Pluribus Unum --- the country's motto.
In God We Trust --- ah, this is the sticking point: this phrase does not represent everyone who lives here. Some people worship different gods, and some (such as myself) don't believe in any gods at all. Indeed, the inclusion of this phrase on government currency is a violation of the government's own First Amendment.
Of these, only two appear consistently on paper money: The United States of America and In God We Trust. No mention of "liberty" or "e pluribus unum". Just the unconstitutional religious incantation. So I take it upon myself to take a blue pen to every dollar bill, fin, sawbuck, Jackson (and even Benjamin if I happen to obtain any) that ever passes through my hands, and mark out the phrase and write "FREEDOM" above it. I use blue because it looks nicer than black. (I was originally going to write "LIBERTY", but I chose "FREEDOM" instead, surmising that the Anglo-Saxon synonym resonates more strongly than the Latinate term in these modern, less intellectual times.) I made myself a promise to never spend any paper currency I get without first giving it the "freedom" treatment. (Although sometimes I forget until it's too late, and I'm right in front of the cashier with my lunch in one hand and my wallet in the other, and I have no choice. Oh well. I try not to let that happen too often.)
So anyway, there I was in the food court, sitting at a table and "freeing up" my money, when through the noise of the crowded mall, I thought I heard someone saying, "You're an asshole." I looked up, and sure enough, there was this guy looking right at me, calling me an asshole. He went on to tell me that what I was doing was illegal, and I could be arrested for it. Well, other people have seen me do it and he's the first person to ever complain. And somehow, I think he wasn't worried about me being arrested so much as about the invocation of his beloved God being desecrated. So I ignored him and went back to what I was doing. He gave up and walked off. Probably didn't even bother trying to tell a security guard on me. :}
And what was I doing at the mall? Buying a new wallet, of course! For the past seven years I've been using a yellow Animaniacs wallet, with a picture of Yakko, Wakko & Dot on the front. I got it during Animania IV at a counter in the room where we started our VIP tour of the Warner Bros. movie studio lot. It's served me well, but it's finally starting to fall apart. When a hole opens up at the bottom wide enough for coins to start falling out, you know it's time for a new one.
So I went to the Fossil store at the Galleria and bought a nice tough-looking canvas wallet. I took it to the food court to sit down and transfer all my money and cards from the old one to the new one. It was then that I took out my blue pen and freed up my money and got called an asshole (by a guy who, frankly, struck me as pretty darn assholish himself).
Unfortunately, not all the cards would fit. I have a lot of cards. So I returned to Fossil (why's it called Fossil? Why, there's probably a fascinating story behind it. Maybe someday I'll hear it), and picked out a bigger wallet and exchanged it. My cards all fit into it, but it still ended up pretty darn fat.
So, after putting my new wallet to the test by buying that new Elv1s CD at FYE, I went over to Ninfa's Express in the Galleria III section of the mall (the food court is in Galleria I), to buy a taco with a handful of coins and exchange some wallet fatness for tummy fatness.
Oh yes! Another funny thing I saw at the mall: a display window in front of the Gucci store, containing a headless mannequin wearing some sort of fancy coat, and a stuffed eagle posed so it appears to be swooping down at the headless figure's shoulders. It looked like the eagle had taken the unfortunate (but rich) person's head, and was coming back for more!