In 1983, when i was five, the most money anyone could have or spend on anything was a hunnerd dollars. In fact, it was SO much money that one rarely called it “a hunnerd dollars.” It was most often pronounced, incredulously, “a hunnerd DOLLARS??”

One kid on my block reportedly had his own bank account. And how much mone did he have in it? A hunnerd DOLLARS, he claimed. A hunnerd DOLLARS?? None of us believed him. You could buy ANYTHING with a hunnerd dollars.

i’ve been doing my Christmas shopping the past coupla days, and it’s the time of year when most of us hemmorrhage money as though we had open head wounds, and instead of blood and brains, our heads were stuffed with money. Certainly no brains. i made a Christmas shopping list, and budgeted it all out, and then skipped along on my merry way to the shops. Suddenly, that 40 dollar whiznit i had planned to buy for so-and-so became an 80 dollar whobob. In every store i visited, i put my items on the counter and was charged a hunnerd DOLLARS. No matter where i went. CDs? A hunnerd DOLLARS. Mittens? A hunnerd DOLLARS. If i had been five, and i had been with grown-up me doing our Christmas shopping, i would have peed in my pants and cried. Especially if older me had told younger me that for every hunnerd dollars we spent, someone we loved would die.

Since we didn’t have a lot of money growing up, i was very very sensitive to how much things cost. i had the impression when i was extremely young that if something got broken, we wouldn’t have the money to replace it. So whenever i watched Tom and Jerry, and one of those jerks would peel around a corner and knock over a lamp or something, i would cry. i would cry because that big black mammy on Tom and Jerry probably didn’t have the money to replace the lamp. And she shore nuff don’t want no mamby-pampy cat n’ mouse tearin’ round no corners an’ breakin’ lamps on a Sunday. Lordy lord, no.

An aside: cartoons were 800% more racist when i was five. It wasn’t unusual to see a character like Tom the cat get blown up by Jerry the mouse, and his face would be all black and exploded, and he’d have corn rows in his hair, and then a piece of watermelon and some fried chicken would fall from the sky and land in his hands to complete the caricature.

i wonder if animation studios were ever sued by black people for irreparable damage – racist images indellibly etched into five-year-olds’ brains for eternity? i bet they could. And i bet if they won, they’d get at least a hunnerd dollars.