The power of the $20 bill

June 1, 2006

Have you ever sat and contemplated the $20 bill? (Have you everreally been that bored?) Most people believe that Rodin's sculptureof "The Thinker" was delving into the meaning of life, but I thinkhe was focusing his mental powers on the redesigned $20 bill. Forexample, have you ever noticed that poor Jackson, with his uncombedhair adrift in the wind, isn't even in the center of the bill? Whatabout the eagle clutching an olive branch that is poking him in theear? Poor soul.

Have you ever sat and contemplated the $20 bill? (Have you ever really been that bored?) Most people believe that Rodin's sculpture of "The Thinker" was delving into the meaning of life, but I think he was focusing his mental powers on the redesigned $20 bill. For example, have you ever noticed that poor Jackson, with his uncombed hair adrift in the wind, isn't even in the center of the bill? What about the eagle clutching an olive branch that is poking him in the ear? Poor soul.

Yes, the old $20 bill had some class; it was familiar and comforting to have one in my pocket growing up, knowing that it could solve almost any emergency. I know the new $20 bill is harder to counterfeit, but it is also austere.

Why, for $20 you can demand to have every seborrheic keratosis on the far reaches of your body treated with cryosurgery.

Why, for $20 you can ask the dermatologist to see every member of your family, unscheduled, for what you presume to be the same co-pay.

Why, for $20 you can demand to be seen immediately when you enter the office, even though there are others who have been patiently waiting ahead of you, because you showed up 48 hours late for your appointment.

Why, for $20 you can launch a vocal abusive tirade in the office because you had to pay $20 for your visit when you did not have to pay anything when you were seen last year.

Yes, the challenge and power of $20 is really something. Quite something.

Well, I think I now know why poor Mr. Jackson's hair is ruffled. He probably feels a little off-center on many occasions. He probably thinks the issues surrounding the $20 co-pay are an equivalent annoyance to being constantly poked in the ear with an olive branch. After all of the haggling over the $20 bill, he too can't see straight to be sure that his fonts are in order!

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D. Clinical associate professor of dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.