Ben Stein's Diary

Reaping the Whirlwind

Chewing the fat in Orlando and Canada.

By 1.22.14

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Tuesday
This has been a whirlwind of the last nine days.

Last Sunday, I flew to Orlando. A wonderful driver named Tom McKneer drove me about 90 minutes through the dark Florida night to an immense set up called The Villages. It is (I believe) the world’s largest retirement community. It has either 50,000 people on 100,000 acres or 100,000 people on 50,000 acres. Anyway, it’s huge.

It has many different communities within it, shops, stores for food, many, many doctors, cafes, bistros, thousands of holes of golf, many lakes, innumerable tennis courts. You have to be 55 or older to get in. There are 2200 social and athletic clubs.

The first morning I was there, I was awakened by a hundred or more men older than I am getting up to row their sculls on one of the many lakes. They were hale and hearty. Everyone there is hale and hearty and super friendly.

The Villages calls itself the friendliest town in the world and it probably is. Everyone who greets me comes up to me and says something like, “Hi, Bill Jones, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”

As far as I know there is no crime here, but a lot of passion among the old folks. I can believe it. I have more passion for my Julie now at age 69 than I have ever had in my life. Apparently the widows and widowers go crazy here.

I spoke to a great many super friendly men and women. Then I posed for photos with them. Just the salt of the earth.

There were several “kids” from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, my alma mater. There was Beverly Bell Kessler, her husband, Mr. Kessler, a girl named Pat Blanchard who had been a classmate of my sister at Blair in the class of 1959.

Blair was one big happy, proud family in those days, best in state at everything, and so, so, so happy to be there at Dale Drive and Wayne Avenue.

It all just tore me up.

That evening, I watched a terrifying story on “American Greed” about an African American con man who forced young women to buy houses on which he got wildly inflated mortgages, pocketed the money, and left the girls “holding the bag” for the mortgages. He also apparently murdered several people he did not like in another of his businesses, selling drugs. He also had prostitutes working for him.

Quite a guy.

But is he really the villain or the victim of a racist society? That is the question. Actually, not much of a question. He’s the villain.

Quite a contrast between the extreme peacefulness of The Villages and the crazed violence of that scoundrel in Milwaukee.

Did I mention the painful lack of diversity at The Villages? Otherwise, pretty close to perfect.

The next day, my pal, driver Tom McKneer, drove me to Orlando where my fabulous greeter got me through the long lines of kids and parents loaded down with mouse ears and right to my Air Canada Rouge flight.

Lemme tell you, we had tiny miserable little coach class seats even in First Class. But I also had an unbelievably beautiful, just stunning, blond haired, green eyes, smiling, charming flight attendant named Miranda Garner. She is from Ontario, from a small faming town. She could not be more beautiful and magnetic.

I told her many times how beautiful she was. She probably thought I was crazy. RIGHT ON!!!!

Then a snooze and there we were in Toronto. Not a long flight at all.

But what a walk to the customs/baggage zone. It took forever and I was extremely tired by the time I got there. My dream girl, Miranda, was there, too, but she was sick of me by then, I imagine.

Passport control and customs work about ten billion times better than at LAX and soon I was in my car heading to the Ritz Carlton.

Wow, it was cold when I got out of the car. I had a super snazzy room, although not large at all. I went down to their steak house for a rare ribeye. Ooops. They served it well done. I sent it back. They sent me a new one that looked like a partially melted tire and was filled with gristle. The chef really could not quite spit out an apology but they did not charge me for it.

I got toast in my room, which I should have done right away.

The next day, I had tasty little dumplings in the bar, then took a nap. Then I mingled with many lively, talkative bankers, had dinner with them and spoke to them about tempora and mores, and then visited with them for a long time just chewing the fat.

I learned from a man in the lobby of the hotel that the reason the Joseph/John F. Kennedy family had so much trouble was that when Ambassador Kennedy was cozying up to Der Führer, a rabbi had put a curse on the family. I had not known that and it explained a lot. “Why didn’t the rabbi put a curse on Hitler and the Nazis?” I asked him. Not a good answer from him. There are a lot of foolish people out there.

There is still a ton of vicious folklore about Jews out there but things are incomparably better than they were. Except in some academic circles and in the fundamentalist Islamic world of crazies. They are about as dangerous a force as has ever been seen on this earth. I love the fact that Saddam had them under control in Iraq, and we got rid of him, an actual catastrophe, and Qaddafi had them under control in Libya, and we got rid of him, another actual catastrophe. Then we cheered on the nut cases in Egypt and now we are working like dervishes to make Iran a world superpower.

I wish we could find that rabbi and have him put a curse on the Iranian nuke scientists.

Then, to sleep in my room.

The next day I went off to a studio to do Fox News. The whole place smelled of popcorn because they were getting ready for a “Monster Truck Jam.” But no one could get me any popcorn. Sad. They keep it locked up. You know how rare and precious popcorn is.

There are a lot and I mean a LOT of super good-looking women in Toronto, many of them Asian, super stylishly dressed. I mean a LOT.

When I got back to my room at the Ritz Carlton, I ordered some more of those yummy dumplings. But someone in the kitchen had screwed up badly and I got radically sick from just one bite. I was retching like a rabid animal. Terrible.

So there I was, feeling as if I were about to die, riding to the Toronto airport with my Bulgarian driver talking nonstop.

I am still a happy guy. I am not in the hospital. I have Alex. I have Julie and soon I will be at the Watergate where I will feel safe.

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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.