Dear Mrs. Vera: How will we ever be able to do without the penny?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

I’ve heard that they’re thinking of retiring the penny. How do you think we’ll get along without them?

Fearful in Fort Knox

Mrs. Vera's Eyes

Mrs. Vera Newman
San Francisco, California
Photo: Xero Britt

Dear Kfearful in Kfort Fnox,

The demise of the Penny will be the demise of us all, especially if you happen to be lost in space with June Lockhart and Doctor Smith when it happens. A quick phone call to Angela Cartwright eliminated her as the source of the problem, though she is rumored to have a strategic supply hidden beneath her sofa cushions, but I prefer not to spread gossip about Pennies, whether they are tangy metal disks or actual human beings with working organs, shopping to do and good hair.

I feel the country will regret eliminating the 1 cent coin, because now that President Obama has called for an increase in the minimum wage — one that would make it a wage almost equal to half of what the cost of living is in order to “live” at the edge just above the poverty line — we can all be certain that right after the Republicans finish closing the Post Office, they will move on to the important work the nation is demanding of them, and that they are pretty sure they heard someone at that gala ask for the immediate lowering of the minimum wage to a figure that definitely calls for using a lot of pennies, up to an entire fistful per hour for people with documents. Ah, but whose critically important fist?  That is where the debate is headed.

Other people sure to be affected negatively are those who will now need to find an alternative object for novice nostril stretching. Get ready to see runway models with nickel and quarter-sized nose holes on their broken-capillary schnoz’s, spastically mouth-breathing and/or crawling up and down the catwalk as they try to stay alive with one of those epiglottis blockers stuck in there.  It won’t be pretty, and that’s sad.

The health insurance industry will see a net gain as parents whose little children, instead of swallowing the humble penny, swallow big coins like Eisenhowers and Sakagaweias, Nobel prizes and Spode dessert plates, will no longer be able to afford to just shrug, and go “Meh,” as these valuables go into tyke storage when they should be on eBay at least 10 days before the rent is due. Soon enough, these regular costly procedures will necessitate that people pay higher premiums for adequate coverage, rather than keep an eye on their kids or pick up around the place a bit more carefully.

Penny withdrawal capital-“L”-Losers can count among themselves the spare changers that will now have to absorb additional sartorial costs as they will be compelled to dress nicer when begging for at least five times the minimum amount previously available to them, following due pitiful beseechment of their jolly, merciful benefactors of course. While you often see well-off people wearing Versace, lying passed out in the gutter at dawn these days, soon we will all have to learn the difference between those looking for where they left the Ferrari last night and those looking for a half-finished bearclaw.  Or a wet napkin.

Finally, if the penny is eliminated, it will be a good time to invest in sheet music concerns, as it brings us within one or two centuries of the rediscovery of the “ha’ penny” as a cultural meme, as celebrated by the return to fashion of all the most leg-withered, grimy, frozen, starving, desperate tropes last seen in long ago Dickensian England.  This rejuvenated, bipartisan Ode to Penury and Want will lift high our spirits, one and all, through the festive harmonious joy of Christmas Carols honoring the flickering lives of the half-dead beggars singing them, not to mention the starving masses whose lousy survival was once ensured (and insured, for a whole pennyworth), by the mighty penny.

If you’re going to be in The Bay Area this weekend, why not stop by?


Mrs. Vera NewmanMrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!


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