Ben Stein's Diary

Too Much Illness

Life can be so busy and good -- and then suddenly sad.

By 6.9.11

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Thursday
Here I am in Houston, Texas. My wife came with me. I am speaking to some finance people at the Omni Hotel. Now, this is a really, really nice hotel. Huge rooms. Architecturally unique and intriguing lobby. As good a hotel café as I have ever enjoyed. I love it here.

The only bad part is that I have a lung pain that is like a knife going right through my left lung. I will just stay in bed as much as I can, go speak, then sleep more. I don't want to take endless antibiotics. I worry that we humans cannot rely on them any longer because the bacteria have outsmarted everything. Maybe my own body, pitiful as it is, can learn to deal with the infection.

Now, I am going to change verb tenses. Be prepared.

I slept until late afternoon, went down to a fascinating, incredibly interesting presentation by various experts on the economy, and then I spoke. The crowd was fantastic. Smart. Alert. Great. I spent a long time talking with them after my speech. Extremely friendly people. Just great people.

Then, to sleep, perchance to recover.

Friday
Miracle. I feel a lot better. Alex (wifey) and I went off to IAH and waited for a long time to board our tiny little plane to Midland. It was infernally hot on that plane. The air conditioning was broken. So we were ushered off the plane. We waited for three hours for Continental to find us another plane, which they finally did, and off we went to Midland.

We are visiting a friend who does not feel well. We spent a long time with her, enjoying food sent over from the Odessa Country Club. The food was fantastic and our friend looked much better than we were expecting, so we were happy.

Then, back to our hotel. We stopped for sodas at a 7-Eleven, where your servant was overwhelmed by people wanting photos with me. It was scary, my favorite word.

The hotel, a Hilton, was Spartan but friendly. Prayer. Then.… Sleep, sleep, sleep. My lungs still ache.

Saturday
Back to visit our pal, her niece, and her daughter and more leftovers from the Odessa CC. Again, the food was fabulous.

Then a short flight to DFW. The Midland/Odessa airport may be the best one in the country. A very kindly policeman brought my wife and me each a Diet Coke, free, just to be friendly. That will NEVER happen at LAX. What a great guy. I love Texas.

At DFW, a stunningly beautiful young woman from American Airlines, a Miss Saori, greeted me and Alex and took us to our next gate on a little cart. Usually I am greeted by Sherry, my fave, but she was off duty that evening.

Then, a short, fast flight to LAX, with me sleeping the whole way. My whole life is a preparation for endless sleep. I fall asleep praising God for His gifts to me, which are beyond measure. The first and prime gift is wifey. I am so happy she is traveling with me, there are no words to describe it. She is incredibly easy going and makes every destination a resort.

Then, home to our dogs and mountains, literal mountains, of bills. MOUNTAINS. I obviously cannot keep up this insane burden much longer. I could do it when I was young. I am not young any longer. I am now in slow, pitiful Napoleon's retreat from Moscow-mode, retreat from youth -- middle age -- mode.

I have to move into a small home somewhere and stop all of this travel, even if it is sleep travel.

Sunday
Out to Malibu to check on some renovations to our home there. We had a new deck of termite-resistant fake wood put on and I want to see it. It's called Trex.

On the way out, I saw that "Evita" was playing at Malibu High School, very near our home. That's my favorite musical, so I stopped in to see it. I could only stay for about half an hour, but I caught the star, a high school girl named Ren Martinez, if I have her name right, sing Evita's main songs, "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" and "High Flying, Adored" and I was floored. That young woman is a pro. She sings fantastically, unbelievably well. I have seen that musical before four times -- twice in London, once in New York on Broadway with the original cast, and once in L.A., in a fine road show. This young Malibuite could have gone straight to Broadway. She was that good. The rest of the cast was excellent as well. But the star was AMAZING. What a voice! What talent. Inspiring.

Tuesday
Now, wifey and I are in Salt Lake City at the best hotel in any western city, The Grand America. Beautiful rooms, super views, great room service. I gave a speech this afternoon for my dear pals at Barron's, and now I am watching wifey read a mystery novel and then I am going to sleep. I love Utah and I am a happy guy.

Ooops. Not so fast. A call from Rancho Mirage. Our manager of our properties in the desert (two modest homes), our beloved songbird, T-Dee, has died of pneumonia. She has been ill for a long time and she just could not get well. She was on life support for a good while, and she just got worse and worse. An MRSI, methicillin resistant staph infection, as they call it. Hopeless.

She was as kind a woman as there ever was, and she took the best care of my wife and me that anyone has ever taken. Our beloved Mississippi song bird, T-Dee, is with the angels. She was just an angel. I will never feel the same about the desert again. She was our desert rose and now she's gone. She always filled our home with flowers she chose herself before we came out. She decorated it for Christmas, along with her husband and daughter, so it shone.

God bless you, T-Dee from Mississippi. We will never forget you. Too much illness.

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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.