Julie Gabelein  

                                                                                                                        Econ 13

                                                                                                                        Extra Credit



A story of love in the midst of a market marriage


            Once upon a time in a far off land called Microeconomica there lived a young servant girl named Ella. Day in and day out she scrubbed and cooked for her evil stepmother and stepsisters. Often she would dream of escaping from this demeaning way of life and finding her prince charming. One day Ella was pulling weeds from the front garden when a messenger from the Royal Palace came galloping up on his gold studded stallion. Ella assumed it was another invitation to an extravagant party for her stepsisters. Obediently, she greeted the messenger at the front door and received the invitation. “I will make sure that my sisters get this,” she assured the young man. He looked at her with a slight smile and instructed her to read the letter. She carefully tore open the gold sealed envelope to find an invitation to every female in the kingdom. The prince was looking for a suitable wife and every unmarried woman in the kingdom was eligible to come to the palace the next day to participate in the ‘Marriage Market.’ The only requirement was that every woman dress in a lime green dress, pink shoes, and wear their hair in a pony tail. Ella didn’t understand why everyone in the market was supposed to look the same, but she didn’t care. Her hands shook as she reread the letter in excitement. Ella ran inside to deliver the good news to the rest of the household. Her wicked stepsisters snickered at Ella when she announced her plan to attend the Marriage Market, but that didn’t phase Ella. She spent the entire night sewing a lime green dress out of scrap fabric.

The next morning, Ella left her house early to join the masses of lime green and pink clad females heading towards the palace. Everyone had complied exactly with the dress code because they believed that is what the Prince wanted. As Ella got closer to the palace, more and more eligible bachelorettes were joining the crowd. Ella began to worry that she would not be noticed by the prince because she looked like every other girl in the crowd. “How will he ever notice me when we are identical?” she wondered in her head.

They were ushered inside to the Perfect Courtyard and told to stand in a straight line and look blankly straight ahead. Two palace aides approached the line and randomly selected two girls based on who was closest to them. It didn’t seem to matter to the palace aides who they chose, since they all looked the same. Ella was shocked when the palace aide motioned for her to follow him. They were led away from the line of angry, screaming women and into the Grand Oligopoly Ballroom.

Ella and the other girl were left alone in the elegant, crystal laced room. Both of the girls nervously fidgeted with their dresses for a few minutes, carefully avoiding each others’ eyes. Ella finally broke the silence and introduced herself. The other girl smiled awkwardly and divulged her name as Freida. A conniving smile spread across Freida’s face as she turned towards Ella. “So it looks like it is down to us…” she commented. “I think we should work together so we can both have the prince. Obviously if we don’t work together, one will loose. If we agree to be no more charming than the other and not distinguish ourselves in any other way, he won’t be able to decide between us. Then, he will have to marry us both!” Freida looked pleased with her ingenious plan. Ella on the other hand didn’t like the idea of sharing the man of her dreams with this shady character. “But the Palace aides told us that we could pick clothes from clothing racks that they will be bring in for us in order to express our individuality. That way the prince can choose which one of us suits him best. They also explicitly told us that we cannot cooperate in that way or neither of us will get the prince.” Freida looked annoyed by Ella’s reservations. “Of course they would say that. They want to make it easy for the prince to choose. We could just say that we both have the same personalities.” Ella pondered Freida’s idea for a few moments, unable to decide which would be the best strategy. However, she could not make a decision because two men rolled in the rack of clothing and motioned for the girls to follow them with an outfit. “Are we going to cooperate?” Freida desperately called after Ella as she headed towards the clothes rack. Ella turned back to look at her and shrugged her shoulders. Grabbing a blue evening dress and a pearl necklace, she followed the guards. Freida gritted her teeth and chose an orange polka dot dress from the rack.

Ella and Frieda were put into separate sound proof chambers. They were instructed to change into their new outfits and wait patiently. Ella paced the tiny room debating whether or not to change. If she changed her clothes and Freida didn’t she would run the risk that the prince would like the woman that Frieda proposed they both be better than who Ella really is. Even worse, if Freida changed, the prince might still like this woman better than Ella. Conversely, if neither of them chose to change and the prince liked them both, Ella would have to share the prince with Freida. Worse of all, if neither of them changed they prince might not like either of them and they both would loose. However, Ella knew that no matter what she didn’t want to be in a three way relationship, so her dominant strategy became changing and she quickly slipped into her evening dress. As she finished tying the pearl necklace around her neck, there came a knock at the door.

Ella felt her mouth drop as the prince entered the small chamber. Although he needed no introduction, he bowed and announced himself as the prince of Microeconomica.  “I have just a few questions for you as a part of the Marriage Market process. Answer these questions as honestly as you can.” He looked seriously at Ella, but she could tell that beneath the serious countenance he was a lighthearted person. “Do you think that government regulation in the form of taxes benefits our Kingdom?” Ella considered the question in terms of her friend Joseph the farmer who lives down the lane from her. He works endlessly to produce enough fruit to sell at the local market to support his family. However, he is taxed higher amounts the more he produces so that the other farmers who don’t produce as efficiently have a chance to sell fruit at the market as well. Ella felt it wasn’t fair or efficient that he has to alter his behavior to suit the less efficient farmers. She explained this to the prince and he nodded in agreement. This question seemed to be a measurement of her view of the government. “O.K. now for a less serious question,” the prince said with a playful smile. “If you become Princess, do you truly believe that you deserve it more than anyone else?”  Ella panicked. The dilemma had come back to haunt her. She wondered what Freida would say to this question. If Ella says yes and Freida says no, then that would make Ella look bad. On the other hand, if Freida says yes and Ella says no, then there is a risk that the Prince would only want Freida. If they both said yes, then the prince would have to choose the one he truly liked and that might be Frieda.  Worse of all, if they both say no Ella might have to share him. She again returned to her original dominant strategy of distinguishing herself as an individual rather than trying to be Freida’s clone. To Ella it was worth the risk. “Yes, I believe that I could spend the rest of my life as your wife and that no one else could do a better job than me.” The prince smiled, winked, and quickly exited leaving Ella to nervously pace the chamber. She couldn’t help but to wonder how Freida was answering the questions.

After an hour, the door slowly swung open to reveal the prince standing in the doorway beaming. He slowly got down on one knee and looks to Ella. “I am here to ask for your hand in marriage, to be my one and only.” Ella felt like she was floating in a dream and never wanted to wake up. She smiled widely and answered “Yes!” The prince extended his hand to her and led her out in the ballroom. Ella sees Freida being escorted out by the palace aides. She spots Ella and screams “I thought we would cooperate! You tricked me…” She was wearing the lime green dress and pink shoes still. “Follow me Ella. We are going into the Grand Monopoly Audience Room. I want to introduce you to the court.” Ella felt like hundreds of butterflies were fluttering in her stomach, but she nodded and followed the prince into the vast room. The prince stood in front of hundreds of elegant courtesans and began his introduction of Ella. “I have seen the other options, but no one compares to her. There are no substitutes for my new princess. No other woman can enter my life from this day forward. So on this day, I announce that we will become one unit as Prince and Princess, husband and wife.” Just as he finished this speech, a tall man in the back stood up and yelled “I represent the interests of the Federation of Royal Kingdoms. I can’t allow this merger of two people to go through on account of the Sherman Anti-Marriage act. It’s too good of a match. I have researched Miss Ella and she is a very bright young woman. That combined with the power of the prince could be a dangerous combination. They could take over the world by dominating the other Royal Kingdoms who are not led by such a dynamic duo. Prince, you must choose a less intelligent bride.” The prince looked shocked for a few moments, but then he seemed to regain his composure. He turned to Ella, but spoke to the entire room. “I’ve only known Ella for 5 minutes, but I know that we are meant to be together. If I gave her up, I would be giving up much more than a Kingdom. My opportunity costs would be too high to walk away from her now. Therefore, I am still announcing my marriage to Ella. However, I will bequeath my crown to my younger brother who has always wanted the power more than me anyway. As for my bride and I, we will relocate to the country side and live a simple life where such Royal Marriage regulations do not apply. I feel that our union will be better appreciated in the rural community. Ella was shocked by the latest announcement, but couldn’t believe that she had found someone so dedicated to her. They walked out of the Grand Monopoly Audience Room hand in hand to their lives as peasants in the country. Although they both would be giving up more comfortable accommodations, even Ella, the relationship that they gained far outweighs this loss.