“Maynard Keynes [is]…with Smith, Marx, and possibly Ricardo, one of the three or four greatest economists who ever lived.”
—John Kenneth Galbraith, The New York Review of Books, November 22, 1984
SCENE: A dressing room at the Teatro Galicia in Barcelona, scantily furnished with a couch, a few chairs, a makeup table, mirror, and fan. A small Goya hangs over the escritoire.
INTERVIEWER: You read what Mr. Galbraith said?
RICARDO: (With a deprecatory wave of the hand) Agh! Too kind!
INT: I’m ashamed to say I never heard of you. It took me days to find out who you were, and where…. What a trip!
RIC: Next time, ship. Much nicer.
INT: But, tell me, what does Galbraith mean? What, for instance, is the name of your theory? I mean supply-side, splitside, sideline, class struggle…?
RIC: Oh, no, no. I have never been to—what you call it?—high school.
(He struggles with his flamenco straps and shoes.)
Blasfemas! Excuse. (He smiles.) I have amassed great fortune.
INT: But still you dance…
RIC: Ah, but that is the point. Mr. Galbraith must be referring to The Peseta Trick. I do not mean to be inmodesto when I say it is truly my invention. I put peseta under one foot, and as I become inflame with the rhythm, the passion, the speed and heat melts under the sole….
RIC: The peseta. And with the other foot, on which is especially stamped the design of a gold doubloon…
INT: I thought they were obsolete!
RIC: I revive. I fire the piece of metal and make gold. Gold is obsolete? (He laughs.) From peseta to doubloon. Of course, it takes great skill…. Each penny a dollar….
(He is interrupted by a knock on the door and a voice calling, “Five minutes, Señor Ricardo.”)
RIC: (Continuing) At home, all night, I dance, dance! I make thousands! Millions!
INT: But isn’t it illegal?
RIC: No, no. Counterfeit is illegal. Not counterfoot. No law to hacer peseta into doubloon. And no tax!
(Ricardo puts on black shoes, white shirt, the paraphernalia of the flamenco. An orchestra starts up in the background.)
INT: You know, I don’t even know your first name! Karl Marx, Adam Smith, and…
RIC: Here is my card. (Shyly) And here is a doubloon for you.
INT: Oh, thank you. (Reading) Ricardo Ricardo…
(A voice from behind the door shouts “Curtain going up!”)
RIC: I must leave. Muchas gracias. Goodbye. Adiós. And muchas felicidades on your money, money, money, money, money….
(Door opens. Wild splash of light. Ricardo runs out to great applause. The door closes.)
INT: (To audience, ambiguously) So that was Ricardo! (The light dawns. He gets up and slowly walks toward the closet.) I…wonder…if…he…has…another…pair…of…shoes….
December 20, 1984