Ben Stein's Diary

In and Out of the Snow

Remember the record snows of last winter? Our Diarist does.

By From the April 2010 issue

Now, this is what i call work. I am in Las Vegas. I am not feeling at all well. Food poisoning, I think. My suitcase handle is broken. My hotel room is about five miles from the check-in counter at the Venetian. It is the middle of the night and I am sick, sick, sick. I called the room service folks to get some tea. They said it would be roughly two hours -- yes! Two hours for tea!!!!

So, I am lying in my bed in a room with a wall at an angle to the rest of the room, making me feel crazy. I decided I would take a hot, steamy shower to feel better.

No hot water. That's right. No hot water.

Well, it is my own fault. If I lived more modestly, I could retire. But I live like a maharajah, so I have to work.

Anyway, dawn finally came, rosy fingered, and I had to go about another five miles, all within the hotel, to get to where I was doing my appearance and guess what? The old ham bone blood in me got pumping and I woke up, felt great, and did my thing and was happy, happy, happy.

I rushed like a madman to McCarran Airport, named for an old Commie-hunting senator from Nevada, Pat McCarran, boarded my plane, and was asleep in seconds. Ooops. Not so fast, the insane couple across the aisle from me were playing gin and shuffling the cards as loudly as they could. That should be totally illegal but it's not. Anyway, my super Bose QC-15 noise-canceling headphones and my Bob Dylan disc saved me and I did not have to throw a fit. God bless Bob and God bless Mr. Bose.

I awakened in Dallas. A kindly man from American Airlines, world's greatest, most caring personal service organization, picked my poor, beleaguered self up at the gate in a little cart, took me to my next gate for my flight to Baltimore, and once again, off I went to sleep, in a wonderful sound sleep.

It was one a.m. when i landed at Baltimore-Washington Airport and a heavy snow was falling. I felt so tired I could hardly drag myself to the luggage area, but I did, and there was my loyal driver, Bob Noah, with a front-wheel-drive Cadillac.

It was a winter wonderland. Just beautiful along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway with heavy snow everywhere, then on the George Washington Parkway with snow and immense trees and no sound at all except our Cadillac tires on the virgin snow. Just a paradisal scene.

How well I know this GW Parkway. Forty-four years ago, I used to take my girlfriend, little Alex, to park on a driveway near the CIA building, and we would hug and kiss and listen to "The Glory of Love." Neither of us could possibly have known we would still be together by 2010.

Then somewhere near here Vince Foster was either murdered or committed suicide.

Frankly, I don't believe the stories about how he just happened to do it by chance. He had just started on anti-depressants and these are known to cause suicidal ideation. So, my theory is that the drugs did it to him. But it is a bit of a coincidence that it was so near the CIA....

Usually I am not a conspiracy theorist. I don't believe in the Bilderbergers as a conspiracy or the Trilateralists. But I am certain that the Communists killed JFK. There is a super great book called Legend by Edward Jay Epstein that makes it all perfectly clear. Oswald was a nut job, but he was used by the KGB and Castro to kill Kennedy. They were furious at him because he had humiliated the Soviets about the Cuban Missile Crisis and also because he had tried repeatedly to topple Castro and also to kill Castro.

Assassination was the KGB's main tool. It would have been quite in their line of work to kill even the head of state of the United States to achieve their means. And the Warren Commission? A titanic cover-up of Soviet murder. Not surprising. Just another of Earl Warren's major league screw-ups, which are still haunting us many years later. The top dogs in Russia were not so coy. Once they learned the risks that Khrushchev had taken in Cuba and by killing JFK, they kicked his sorry ass out of the Kremlin.

Well, anyway, all water over the dam. Here we are in the winter wonderland that is Washington, D.C., tonight. We slipped and slid to the front of the Watergate. Bob Noah, my Sherpa guide, got me and my stuff into my glorious, unbelievably wonderful apartment at Watergate east, north building, where, by the way, someone has carved a swastika and a peace sign and an anarchy sign into my door. I had some toast, drank my huge ration of fiber, and then, off to dreamland.

I LOVE MY APARTMENT AT THE WATERGATE!!! I actually have two of them and love them both. Spacious, great views, my own bed, my own fiber -- I am happy. No hotel room, however pleasant, can compare with sleeping in my own bed reading my own book about Gone with the Wind next to the bed. The snow is falling and I am warm and toasty, not in a trench or doing forced labor at Auschwitz. I AM HAPPY!

Welly, welly, well, as the droogies would say in A Clockwork Orange. I got up this morning and the snow had stopped. I went down to the Watergate laundry and got my shirts from the last visit, got the newspapers at the CVS, got a haircut, and then my Bob Noah showed up and off we drove to Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania.

Now, on the map this looks like not a bad drive. But Bob had trustingly leaned on his GPS to get us to the destination. Instead of taking us over normal freeways and interstates, his GPS's route took us over terrifying mountain passes and totally abandoned, fallow fields and forests. I do not like winding roads and threw a fit.

Finally, we found a small town whose name I don't remember, and by a miracle, found a decent road into State College.

I love Penn State and the kids were as pleasant as could be. The question period was fine except for a query by a "truther" who is convinced that the CIA and the Israelis knocked down the World Trade Center. Wow, there are a lot of wacky people out there.

It is scary how many people have just lost their minds and have conspiracy theories about the Federal Reserve (which is not a conspiracy entity, just a normally incompetent bunch of human beings with good educations and human limitations), the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (again, no conspiracies that I see, just human errors ), and space travel.

I shouldn't really be hard on them, though, since I unequivocally see a conspiracy in the amazing power Goldman Sachs has over the U.S. government.

Well, no point dwelling on that. The speech and reception were fine. I really enjoy these events, and Bob drove us home on big immense freeways and then I could get back in my bed.

I am so in love with just lying in bed listening to Mozart. Napoleon could not have gotten more pleasure out of Austerlitz than I do out of listening to Mozart's Laudate Dominum.

I flipped on the TV before I passed into slumber, and what should I see but that another snowstorm is approaching D.C. Yippee. I can watch the snow from my apartment. I love it.

Off to Fox and CNN to do some TV shows. The snow is falling. The trees are a magical white. The streets are covered with snow. But the studios are warm and toasty and cheerful.

I did my shows and said my two cents' worth, and then I got back to my apartment. I hired a driver with a four-wheel-drive vehicle and my pal Russ Ferguson and I went out to a fabulous Italian restaurant in Georgetown by the name of Café Milano. We first had a seat under some loudspeakers. It was unbearable. Loud thumping awful bass. I complained. Then we had a good table in a room with a view of the snow and the revelers in the snow. I had chicken Milanese and Russ had some kind of pasta. The service was perfection. It was all heavenly and I just felt really wonderful. Out in the snow, young people greeted me as the kindly old fool I now am.

Back to my apartment, and Russ went home. I lay for a long time watching the snow. It was paradise. The silence was total and I thought, "Benjy, enjoy this. Hardly anyone else on this planet gets to feel as good as you feel right now. Enjoy the silence and the beauty."

I did and I went into dream land.

When i awakened, there was more than a foot of snow on my balcony railing. Even birds could not land there.

I was well and truly snowed in. Even Russ could not come over. I just lolled about in my pajamas, slept, watched an amazingly interesting C-Span show about "stealth reconstruction" in the South in the '60s and '70s, and slept and read my book about Gone with the Wind, and slept more.
This is the life. I did not see one car on the Rock Creek Parkway all day, a first. (I just realized how many roads in the D.C. area are called "Parkway"...hmmm. I wonder why.)

I don't think I will criticize anyone ever again. I will just be calm and happy and grateful and wish everyone well.

I am sure there will be bad things ahead. In fact, it's guaranteed. But I am going to try to pray even for those who harm me. I will try. I may not succeed, but I will try. I am even going to pray for Mr. Obama, for God to give him wisdom and peace of mind. And I mean it.

It is a couple of weeks later now. I am in Washington, D.C. It has been an exhausting day of travel. Yesterday I flew to Orlando, went to bed very late, and got up very early to give a speech. Then I went immediately to the airport and waited around a long time for a flight to D.C. I slept the whole way.

When I got off the plane, my trusty driver, Bob Noah, was waiting for me. As always, he had a bag of freshly popped microwave popcorn for me. We went by the glorious gray Potomac to the Memorial Bridge, then over it to the Watergate. Magnificent. The view over the river is magnificent. I am so tired, though. But what must it be like for men in combat, women in combat, exhausted, dirty, hungry, hurting -- and they do it for us. They do it for our sorry civilian butts. They go through more in an hour than I do in my whole life. God bless them a million times over. God bless them for all eternity. We owe them EVERYTHING.

I can see the resting place for some of them, Arlington National Cemetery, from near my apartment. They died so I can sleep in peace. Thank you, God, for such heroes and for their families. Thank you.

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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.