Ben Stein's Diary

Fathers and Sons and a Birthday

"Tommy & Me" takes on new meaning.

By 11.28.11

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Friday
It is my birthday. I am 67 years old. That is too damned old. I don't like it. No, sir, I don't like it. Obviously, the alternatives are also bad.

I awakened way too tired. Our son, Tommy, his staggeringly beautiful wife, Kitty, their lovely five month old daughter, Cora, and their Cocker Spaniel, Buglette, showed up at our house here in Rancho Mirage at about ten p.m. last night. I brought them to our condo at a nearby country club that we keep for guests. I think it's a great condo but Tommy didn't like it. He thought it had some kind of evil energy. Plus there was a large black van parked nearby that made him nervous.

So, at about midnight, I got him and his family a room at a nearby Marriott, went over with them to check in, and then headed home.

I felt put upon, but I swam under a perfectly clear sky with bright constellations everywhere and then I felt better, and then great.

This morning, I went over to my 12-step meeting. It was a reassuring meeting. This program, basically of turning my life over to God and surrendering my will to him, has saved my life over and over again. Now, my wife is in the program. It has saved my wife's life and basically given her back to me after her soul was being stolen by an illness. I am so grateful I cannot even express it. This program is a miracle of God. After the meeting, I had leftover turkey from yesterday's Thanksgiving dinner here at Morningside Country Club. It was fantastically tasty. Canned Ocean Spray cranberry sauce adds to the delight.

Then, a long nap. I awakened to put some thoughts together about a lawsuit that is being threatened against me by a disgruntled family friend and helper in my career. It is an amazing story and I might tell it in detail some day. For now, let's just say it would make Kim Philby envious for its stunning betrayal of trust.

As I was noodling about this fantastic fantasy issue, I got a call from a relative. I won't dwell on it except to say it was extremely depressing.

Then, my son, his wife, daughter and their dog showed up for birthday dinner at a casual restaurant. I was dreading it, mostly because I was in such a down mood after my conversation with my relative.

And, bang, miracle! As our salads arrived, my son and his wife recalled various incidents in recent years that were and are extremely -- and I mean extremely -- helpful to my truthful side of my issue with the woman I mentioned a moment ago (a woman my wife and I used to love and adore).

I thanked him and his wife and they fixed me with the most serious look I have ever seen them wear. "We will do anything to make sure the truth gets across in this thing," my daughter-in-law said.

"Anything to make sure that people know the truth," my son said. "I will stop anything I am doing, and so will Kitty, to make sure the truth is known."

I was overwhelmed. The devotion of my wife, son, and daughter-in-law really just bowled me over. I was just floored. I knew they were committed to the truth but I had no idea of the depth of their feeling. I have never seen anything like this from my son before. He was intense.

Many years ago, my father was working at the White House as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. I was a speechwriter for Mr. Nixon. I asked my father for help with a statistic. I said, "Please only do it if you don't have anything more important to do."

He looked at me in amazement in his office on the third floor of the Old EOB. He put his Kent cigarette in the brown smoked glass ashtray and exhaled. "What do you think I have to do that's more important than helping my only son?" he asked me.

I will be thinking about that moment until I die. I will remember tonight until I die. My son. My ally in life's struggles. How sweet it is.

Take that, trial lawyers who love publicity. You have given me my son. This was the best birthday dinner of my life.

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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.