Living room in Bertie’s flat on Wilde Street. The room is spare but neat. Bertie is seated in a comfortable armchair. Alfie is standing across from Bertie and slightly to the left. Chip is reclined comfortably on a settee that is in front and to the right of Bertie.
Alfie. I chanced upon a pretty woman this morning. What’s more, I have it on reliable authority that the only thing more stunning than her beauty, and it is considerable I assure you, is her wealth.
Chip. Nothing makes a woman more becoming than wealth, don’t you agree, Bertie?
Bertie. Aren’t all pretty women invariably wealthy? Or is it that all wealthy women are invariably pretty? I forget which.
Alfie. You cannot be serious, Bertie! I never heard of such a thing, have you, Chip?
Chip. Now that Bertie mentions it, I must confess that there is something in what he says.
Alfie. That’s absurd! Are you implying that all pretty women are rich, or perhaps that all rich women are pretty?
Bertie. I believe that is precisely what I am implying, my dear fellow. You will confess, won’t you, Alfie, that one seldom sees pretty women in the less desirable sections of the city?
Alfie. That may be so, but it does not naturally imply that the corollary is necessarily true .
Bertie. Perhaps I am guilty of a little generalization; but won’t you agree that one is bound to find a disproportionately large number of attractive women in the upper echelons of society, particularly those that you are accustomed to frequent?
Alfie. I admit I have run into a fair number of alluring women in my social circle, but are you alluding that wealth make women appear more beautiful than they really are?
Bertie. My dear chap, I make no such allusion. I am merely stating that there are more beautiful women among the wealthy and affluent than there are amidst the less privileged and downtrodden.
Chip. You make an interesting point, Bertie. You cannot possible disagree with Bertie on that, Alfie. I confess I am at a loss for an explanation to this extraordinary theory, Bertie.
Alfie. While I admit that Bertie’s theory does hold some intrigue, I believe it is nothing more that a coincidence and that no convincing explanation can be provided by Bertie or by anyone else. That is just the way it is, I suppose.
Bertie. Really? I beg to differ, my dear Alfie. It is no more a coincidence than it is that the perpetrators of the greatest number of crimes are the poor, and the largest consumers of the greatest proportion of caviar are the wealthy and the obnoxious. In short Alfie, you poor sod, it is that very same propensity among the unfortunate which steers them toward felony and a life of crime that also drives the wealthy to self-indulgence and vanity.
Alfie. Surely it can’t be as simple as you are making it out to be?
Bertie. On the contrary, Alfie, it is much simpler than you think. You see, there are very few things that are beyond the reach of wealth – immortality and common sense inevitable come to mind. All other things are well within the means of the wealthy. Exotic skin treatments and renowned specialists, rich foods and an army of servants, not to mention unlimited leisure and the total lack of any mental activity, have certainly everything to do with their perceived beauty. While their poorer sisters cannot afford any of these luxuries, they have to further deal with the everyday harshness of work, abusive husbands and a brood of misbehaving miscreants they call children. Naturally the little critters cannot be blamed for their misbehavior any more than their mothers for their of lack of good looks. It is little surprise then that the poor become steadily ghastlier while the rich become progressively attractive. It is a simple matter of economics, Alfie.
Chip. Who would have thought that economics and beauty were related? Well, Alfie, are you quite convinced now, my boy?
Alfie. I suppose Bertie’s is right as usual. I also suppose fine red wine does as much to enhance the complexion of the rich, as does cheap hooch to ruin that of the deprived. Speaking of fine red wines, what say proceed to the Gadfly’s and drink a toast to the beauty of economics?
Bertie. Or should we say the economics of beauty?