Margaret Thatcher walks into a bar and runs smack into George Washington.
(Did I mention that this bar is just down the street from the U.S. Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing? It's where all these green-tinged fellows hang out after a long day spent posing for the currency.)
So Margaret Thatcher walks into this bar and stumbles up against George Washington and the first thing he wants to know is "Who's your wig-maker?" Because let's face it, George's curls look limp and lifeless next to Margaret's gravity-defying hair.
"It's not a wig," she says, and when George reaches out to give her curls a hearty tug, she draws away in high dudgeon. The Iron Lady is not amused.
What is she doing here in the haunts of American heroes? That's what Alexander Hamilton wants to know.
"I hardly know myself," says poor Margaret. "I was dragged into this debate by Jeb Bush, who thinks my face should grace the 10-dollar bill."
Poor Alex is torn: make way chivalrously for the weaker sex or stand firm for his right to fill the green oval? Before he can decide, his compatriots step in:
"She's not even an American," says U.S. Grant, "and besides, she doesn't have a beard."
"Well, a beard isn't strictly required," says Maggie.
"Beard or no beard, what have you ever done?" demands Honest Abe. "How many slaves have you freed?"
"And how many did you breed?" asks Jefferson.
"Have you fought any battles with your own tender hands?" asks Andrew Jackson, but before Thatcher can mention the Falklands, he charges on: "We whipped you fair and square in the War of 1812, and we don't want losers on our currency. We want winners! How many elections have you won? Ever been elected President in a landslide?"
Margaret draws herself to her full height, looks Jackson straight in the belly-button, and marshals all her baronessial hauteur, but before she can speak, gentle Ben Franklin grabs her elbow and moves her smoothly toward the bar. "There, there, my dear," he says, "there's no need to fuss. My colleagues have forgotten both their manners and their history. Everyone knows that you don't have to be elected president to appear on the currency."
"Then what does it take?" she asks. "Come, Ben, tell me your secret."
"You must be willing to be passed from hand to hand, collecting dirt and germs and miscellaneous marks. You must endure a million caricatures without complaint. You must maintain a smile that convinces consumers that you're thinking profound thoughts when maybe your teeth hurt. You must, above all, be willing to become common."
"Common?" Lady Thatcher bites off the word as if it were a bit of sour persimmon.
"Yes, there's nothing more common than currency," explains Ben. "And yet despite your commonness, very few who see your face will come to know you deeply, and many won't even know your name."
"You can say that again," says a dour-looking man at the bar. He turns toward Maggie and holds out his hand. "Allow me to introduce myself," he says. "I'm Salmon P. Chase."
"Who?" she says.
"I rest my case," says Ben.