Ben Stein's Diary

A Case of Intracoastal Blues

A magazine installment from the world's leading Diarist.

By From the June 2012 issue

I WAS AWAKENED by a scary dream about my son bothering me while I was napping and wanting to go drive to Richmond. Where did that come from?

Then various sobering thoughts about life in general. Then off to give a speech to super nice people who distribute trash can liners, paper products, hand cleaner, to institutions all over the country. Super-duper friendly, smart people. I could have spent a week with them.

Now, let me tell you something. I literally felt ultra-depressed this morning. Like I wanted to jump out of my window here on the 30th floor. I don’t know why and probably it was just indigestion. But, when I finished shaking hands with hundreds of men and women, getting my picture with them, talking to them, making them laugh, I felt totally great.

That’s what work does for you. Work is a sovereign cure for despair. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is better than any drug. Work is a gift from God. Depression is death blows of low self-esteem. Work is self-esteem.

A nice walk along the Intracoastal, then dinner on the water, served by a sweet woman from Austria. Then lots more picture taking. One of the men I took my picture with pointed at an immense cruise ship nearby and said, “I guess to you, that’s a dinghy.”

Why do people think I’m rich? I am mystified about this. I am not at all rich except in my family and friends and my country. I am not rich and never have been rich and never will be rich. Warren Buffett is rich. Larry Ellison is rich. I am not rich. I have never said I am rich. There is nothing in my life to indicate that I am rich. Oh, well.

“It looks like a huge boat to me,” I said and smiled wanly.

Then a nice stroll with my wifey back to the hotel, hoping to find something great on TV. No such luck. Just packing and getting ready to go back to LAX tomorrow and see my Julie Good Girl. I miss that girl so much, that sweet loving girl. Sometimes in the night she actually sleeps with her trusting, noble head on my pitifully unworthy shoulder.

What a gift work is. What a gift Chuck Colson was. What a gift dogs are. What a gift my wife is. And my son and his wife and my granddaughter and my pals. What gifts from God.

But what is going to happen to this great nation? Too much debt. Too few people who want to work. I took pictures with many Haitians today at the hotel. They really work. They also all carry little bottles of Clear Eyes. Those people come to America to work. Too many of the ones who are born here want no part of work. There’s too much of mockery of work—and nowhere near enough work. Not even close to enough. It all scares me but I cannot do a thing about it. I can just step out on my balcony and look at the moon over Miami. Or maybe it’s Fort Lauderdale. It shines on the man who owns the Pershing 88 and the man who mops the floors. It shines on anyone who pays attention. We all live our lives with a death sentence, but it can be a beautiful ride.

Oh, dear God, how I miss my parents though. I bought perfect postcards of Miami. I sent them to my sister, to close friends, but I wanted to send them to my parents. This is cruel. I told them I loved them a million times. I wish it had been a billion.


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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.