[EDITOR’S NOTE: Return of the Reluctant has obtained an exclusive chapter from Alan Greenspan’s memoir, a book that Penguin Press recently declared bankruptcy to get the rights for.]
Chapter 18: Ayn and Me
It was 1958. I had risen up through the ranks quite rapidly. By now, I had plenty of minions at Townsend-Greenspan who hung on my every word. They were terrified by my economic prophecies. They wilted as I passed them in the halls. Sometimes they bought me coffee. Decaf. Sanka, in fact. Back in the benzene days when drinking decaf meant something.
I was known affectionately around the office as “Uncle Alan.” I was loved. I was feared. Sometimes, I was even kissed.
Even so, I felt a slight empty feeling making all that money. Could I really rule the world so effortlessly? Could I bend the world to my will? Even Bill Townsend didn’t know that most of my private capital was tied up in abstruse mutual funds, all designed to take advantage of the United States Tax Code, which I had memorized at the age of seven.
I decided to take a constitutional around Wall Street. One could play the clarinet only so long. I decided to pay an impromptu visit to a friend, and it was there that I entered an elevator and saw a slinky Russian smoking a cigarette with a prominent brow, lips that were deliciously cold and a nose that was as sexy as Lincoln’s.
“Hi, I’m Ayn.”
“Ayn Rand, the writer?” I asked.
“Why, yes,” she said, blowing smoke into my face. “And who the hell are you?”
Of course, I knew Ayn’s work. I had read Atlas Shrugged ten times. Sometimes, I had my African-American manservant (we called them “coloreds” back in those days) read me passages just before bedtime, alternating these readings with lectures by Keynes.
Well, apparently, despite the hostility, Ayn knew me. And she knew me well.
“What are you doing right now, big boy?” she asked.
At that moment, I could have gone back to my office and made two hundred thousand dollars in a few hours. But there was something about Ayn, perhaps the fact that she never smiled, that attracted her to me. And I had to prove to myself that there was more to Uncle Alan than making money.
We took a taxi across the East River and checked into a seedy Brooklyn motel. Ayn explained to me that she was growing bored with Nathaniel, who was still having difficulties finding her clitoris. I confessed to Ayn that aside from the “Money” speech, I was a big fan of Atlas Shrugged‘s sex scenes.
“Do you like it cold and hard, Alan?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, taking off my glasses.
“Good,” she said. “That’s exactly how I like it.”
She then proceeded to tie my wrists to the headboard and removed my Brooks Brothers suit. She took off her blouse and carefully pressed skirt, revealing a garter belt and a black leather bra with a swastika on each cup. She then barked at me in German, Geld ist Energie!, and trilled her fingers across my chest. I was feeling excited. I was feeling aroused.
“Are you my bitch, Alan?” shrieked Ayn.
She hit me across the chest with a riding crop. I had no idea where the crop had come from.
“Yes,” I croaked.
“Do you feel empty?”
She struck me again with her riding crop and repeated the three German words. She then removed her swastika bra, revealing her pendulous breasts, and wrapped the bra around my neck. She moved closer to me.
“Answer again,” she whispered. “Do you feel empty?”
Then Ayn took the bra around my neck and tied it around my eyes. It was tight. It hurt. I couldn’t see anything, save a portion of one of the swastikas.
That’s when Ayn began to straddle me, while also summarizing Wicksellian theory.
It was at that moment I decided that money was the root of all good.