Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Penny Saved, No Pennies Earned

It may be said that the rake's life is a string of deftly managed concealments. One such secret is the cad's relationship to Change. We are speaking of course about coined money, and not the variety of change touted by this young Obama upstart. Quite simply, given that the rake is nearly always short on money, he must never let even a nickel slip through his fingers. However he must exert all his efforts never to be seen handling or known to have handled any such denomination of money, lest he sully his hard earned reputation for magnanimity and utter disregard for saving or any sort of planning beyond his next bar tab.

In order to maintain this delicate balance, he will be forced to develop a sleight of hand usually reserved for Houdini and his ilk. When exiting a restaurant, with one arm around his companion of the night, whispering sweet nothings into her ear and telling her fantastic lies about how he will treat on their next outing, he should be able to swipe any number of coins off of empty tables silently and casually. Do not worry about the waitress with whose tip you have just absconded. Remember, other peoples' needs are insignificant in comparison with your wants. Similarly, when a rake finds himself refeuling his motorcar at a petrol stand or popping into a corner bodega for a pack of cigarettes (more on that here), he should always take a penny, and should never leave one.

Keep a weather eye out for these pieces of eight, so to speak: any gold coin picturing Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, Jackson, van Buren, or William Henry Harrison. (We here at The Rakish Life are ourselves eagerly awaiting the May 21 issuance of a striking John Tyler piece) Also look for Susan B. Anthonys, Gobrechts, Seated Libertys, Trade dollars, Morgans, Eisenhowers, Liberty Heads, Indian Heads, Sacagaweas, or any coin with a redskin on it, for that matter. Most especially do not confuse them for quarter dollars. One need not be a numismatist, but inattention to detail in this matter may cause you to lose seventy-five cents or more. Others' carelessness, however, can be used to your distinct advantage. In a pinch, you can pull the old switcheroo and substitute a toonie for a Tyler. Canadian pennies are, at a glance, virtually indistinguishable from American ones. Euro nickels also resemble the penny, although if current exchange rates persist, just save it for the next time you visit grand-oncle Frédéric on the Continent.

There may be many situations in which the rake is forced to confront the necessary evil of coinage, but he should always remember the cardinal rule: never, under any circumstances be discovered to have any dealings with dimes. If his pocket is ever once heard a-jingle, his reputation will be marred irrevocably. If someone you know ever observes you using petty change, you should immediately locate the nearest vagrant and give all of it to him, very publicly. If no tramp can be found, claim that you either need the coins to call a sick aunt, play a game of billiards, or purchase a prophylactic device in the bathroom of the local public house. (Note: These particular fibs perpetuate the myths that one is a devoted family member, a good sportsman, and a practitioner of safe sex, despite the fact that a true rake is none of these things.)

One more thing, gentlemen. Cell phones be damned--the CoinStar is the greatest technological advance of the past several decades, at least as far as the rake is concerned. For a small fee, this wonderful device allows one to exchange all of those terrible pieces of tin for bills. Look up the location nearest you, and memorize it. You will thank us later.

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