NEW YORK—An English prof made an Earth-shattering discovery about ten years ago—there is a strong link between having money fall upon you and being happy. He didn’t win a Nobel for it, nor for his conclusion, which was that money buys autonomy and independence. The prof should have won a Nobel Prize for excessive stupidity instead, especially for his last neologism: “To turn a really unhappy person into a very happy person using money alone would take about one million pounds.”
I ain’t so sure about that. I gave a member of my family much more than one million quid twenty years ago and the guy is still miserable and angry—mostly at yours truly. That arch-phony Sigmund Freud was on my side on money matters. He said that happiness is the adult fulfillment of childhood dreams, and children, said Siggy, do not dream of money. Ergo, money does not buy happiness. A far more serious and better person, Gore Vidal, is on record saying that if the poor were ever to find out how much fun the rich really have, they would probably rise up and kill them all. My only contribution to wealth epigrams is the one I borrowed about those who marry for money—they earn every cent and then some. I do not include women in that, only men. Most women I know who married for moolah have led charmingly carefree lives, with lotsa staff to boss around, lotsa houses in which to receive grand people, lotsa toys in which to fly and sail privately, and lotsa, lotsa walkers to keep them company when the old boy is in a board meeting and they happen to be bored.
A recent book on Lily Safra confirms my point. I have not read it—even I have better things to do at this advanced stage of my life—but this old bag really struck it rich through marriages and sudden deaths. She may look like a gilded lily nowadays, but she looked far, far worse in her youth. How she did it, I dunno. All I know is that she came up from nowhere and married three rich men. I believe two of them dropped dead and left her all their money. One, Señor Greenberg—who changed his name to Monteverde—died from a mysterious pistol shot in the head. The other, Safra the banker, perished from an equally mysterious fire in his Monte Carlo office.
Trophy wives are now a cliché, proof that men are insecure and prefer taut skin. I take a backseat to no one where beautiful young girls are concerned, but veterans are known to sparkle in bed. And I don’t believe a word about the Duchess of Windsor and all the oriental tricks she supposedly used on the poor Duke, who is rumored to be hung like a nine-month-old baby. Although an expert on going down, all she needed to capture him was to talk down to him. I haven’t enough space to list the great courtesans—because that’s what they really are—who nowadays pose as ladies of society, and there’s also the monster that goes by the name of libel that seems to lurk over my shoulder when I write about such touchy subjects. But in my long life among the rich and infamous, the ratio of rich men landing glorified hookers is about fifty-fifty; in the ex-Soviet Union’s case, it’s 99 to 1 in favor of the hookers.
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