Ben Stein's Diary

24 Hours From Tulsa

Another whirlwind week in different time zones.

By 2.11.14

Ben Stein
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Monday
This has been a busy, interesting week. One week ago, flew from LAX to DFW, rested, changed planes, flew to Oklahoma City. I slept in a strange hotel room with strange noises coming from all over but with a super pleasant woman running the lounge on the lounge floor. It makes my hotel stay a lot more pleasant if someone at the hotel considers me more than an inconvenience and a burden. It was going to be a struggle anyway because I had to go to sleep at 9 PM Central time because I had to be up at 5 AM the next morning. Very tough on someone like me who is a full scale night owl, almost a vampire.

That 5AM.…That’s 3 AM my time. But I was able to fall right asleep and actually felt good when I awakened. There might be something to this “early to bed and early to rise” advice after all. (I believe that Ben Franklin commonly stayed up late and slept late though.) I was picked up by a ruggedly handsome driver/security man (as if I needed a security man). The air was stunningly cold just walking the few seconds to the SUV and hoisting my ponderous bulk onto the seat.

Soon, we were at the Cowboy Museum, where I had spoken many years ago. About sixty high officials and their spouses were there and I spoke, literally took the podium, at 7:30 AM, which is 5:30 AM my time.

I talked mostly about a favorite few subjects: the truth that a much bigger problem than income inequality is what I call “culture power inequality.” That is when a few hundred power players in the liberal media control the national agenda for 310 million people. They get to decide what is important and supposedly immoral and pressing. We conservatives in this circle are treated like lepers. But we soldier on. We try and we have some big names. But the BPs, the beautiful people, are all against us and they call the tune, by and large. BTW, that is why I love the Tea Party. They stand up to the media and don’t take any bossing around by them. The Tea Party has some odd ideas, but the basic idea that the ordinary citizen has a right to her own opinions based upon what she sees with her own eyes — that’s a darned good way to run a railroad.

I also talked about how sick I was of the media ass kissing of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and how the media endlessly talk about these performers as if they had some moral superiority to the rest of us and were for peace and love while we others were for war and hatred.

What nonsense. The rock stars made themselves into stars so they could have sex and money and fame and get high. They didn’t do it out of altruistic motives. They did it to please themselves.

That’s fine. That’s what rock stars do. That’s what human beings do. But Mr. Media, please don’t act as if the grunts fighting in Vietnam were the problem. THEY WANTED THE WAR TO BE OVER FAR MORE THAN THE ROCK STARS. After all, as my late, great father-in-law, heavily medaled fighting hero of World War II and Vietnam, said to me when I first met him, “OF COURSE WE SOLDIERS HATE WAR MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE. WE’RE THE ONES GETTING KILLED.”

The ordinary — or extraordinary — soldier, Marine, sailor, air force man or woman, has far more claim upon moral superiority than Mick or Ringo. Staff Sergeant Jones is risking his life, often losing it, for us while we stay home and get high. The fighting men are utterly unselfish. The rock stars and their handlers are all about selfishness, and nothing else. That’s human, but let’s not count them as superstars.

This, by the way, is why I respect Norman Lear more than any politician. He flew 50 missions in Europe, risking his life on each one. I listen when he talks.

I loved my driver. He had some amazing insights into the problems with the American underclass. He says, and I think he’s largely right, that the problems with the violent segments of the population, the chronically violent sectors, have a lot more to do with their DNA than with anything else. A brilliant and unafraid diagnosis. Any watcher of COPS would agree. Those who commit acts of violence on an ongoing basis are, as a general rule, mentally ill, incurable, and terrifyingly incorrigible. Kudos to the police for dealing with them.

I rested for a while, then went to an immense luncheon, then spoke, then packed up and moved my fat old self to Tulsa via my great philosopher driver. On the way, I stopped at a gas station and had the best piece of chicken I have ever had in my life from a steam table in the gas station. It cost 89 cents. How can it be that a piece of chicken at a gas station in Sapaulpa, Ok., tastes better than a $35 veal loin at a “fine dining” restaurant ? Why does Waffle House almost always taste better than anything at any fawncy bistro?

Trouble at the Renaissance Hotel in Tulsa where I had to fight to get a room that did not literally vibrate from the trucks on the freeway a few steps away.

I was shown SIX ROOMS before I found a room that did not sound like the inside of a truck muffler.

Then, yummy Waffle House. Waffle, two eggs, city ham (boneless), toast, OJ — nine dollars and flawless service. There is no better chain than Waffle House. It is that simple.

Early to bed, and super early to rise, and then a speech at a gorgeous Country Club, a nap, and a speech at the Renaissance and then off to the charming Tulsa airport. Ooops. Problem. My American flights had been canceled for reasons unknown. There was not a snowflake in the sky. But my Mistress of the Skies, Babs, my travel agent, got me fine backup on Delta through Atlanta and I was happy.

At my Orlando gate in ATL, by a mercy, there was a Popeyes. I had a fabulous meal — breast and wing, mashed potatoes, gravy, string beans, diet Coke — for under eight dollars. As I was munching on my chicken, a breathtakingly beautiful Delta flight attendant started teasing me about Ferris Bueller. We talked and she gave me her phone number with a darling Irish wink, and by the time I got off the plane in Orlando, I had many messages from her with great pictures of her great young self, and urgent requests to come visit her in Atlanta after my speech in Orlando.

I LOVE THAT!!!! She took pity on me and wrote to me!!!! Poor old me. And she wanted me to fly right back and see her in Atlanta. But that’s a young, single man’s game and I am an old, VERY happily married man. So, good-bye, beautiful stewardess. I will see you at some Popeyes on some happy day. And, once again, how can Popeyes always and I mean always be so much better than fine dining cafes? I had an expensive meal at a fine dining southern food place in DC a few weeks ago. It was called Vidalia and I really loved it. But Popeyes is a far better for about one tenth the price. How can that be?

Well, back to work. I had an amazingly beautiful room at the Bonnet Creek Hilton in Orlando. It was a palace and the room service was fast and pleasant. How I wish I could have Waffle House for room service.

Then, to sleep, after watching some nonsense about how great the Beatles were. One of the million reasons I know my wife is a genius is that she never liked the Beatles and says she feels like vomiting when they come on the radio. I agree. They could not have been more fake and plastic. The Monkees were like Leadbelly by comparison.

The next morning I spoke to an amazingly, gloriously smart, lively group — a large group — from TransAmerica. They were simply the perfect audience — got all my jokes, got all my serious points — and served me fried chicken afterwards.

I slept and then went to the hellacious Orlando airport, the unhappiest place in the world. I bought a club sandwich at Ruby Tuesday’s. Just my opinion, but I would say they need a fair amount of fine tuning on that one. Or maybe it’s supposed to taste like a rubber tire. Again, just my opinion.

In DC, my great pal and driver, Bob Noah, was waiting for me. We gave a ride home to a brilliantly smart woman who works at a company that assembles and sells real estate investment trusts. Her ride had not shown up so Bob and I drove her to her manse in Alexandria. Her bf came out the door as we pulled up and looked utterly stunned to see me with his girl. I assured him we were just a taxi service and he became friendly.

Then to get Vietnamese food and watch the Olympics opening ceremony. Who would have even remotely dreamed that the former USSR would have an immense pageant glorifying the days of the Tsars, Tolstoy, and the Boyars. In Red Russia? Who, in 1980, would have dreamed it possible? Life is wildly unpredictable.

Then, the next night, a lavish party of entrepreneurs at a beautiful showplace called Anderson House. Friendly, hard drinking people, and I got to spend time with an amazingly beautiful 41-year-old entrepreneuress. She wanted to talk about the real Richard Nixon, so I fell in love with her at once, and then she wanted to talk about who Joe McCarthy was, so I double secret probation fell in love with her. If she had gone on to ask me about George Corley Wallace, I would be shopping for an 11 carat engagement ring for her right now (like the one Grand-dad gave my wife when we got married — no kidding). But she didn’t ask about George Wallace so I guess I will have to give the relationship time to mellow.

Sunday, by a great stroke of luck, ma soeur and her hubby were in DC. I had lunch with her at a very fine restaurant on Capitol Hill called Bistro Bis. My nephew and niece, both noted historians, were there too. So were my nieces’ unbelievably sweet and smart daughters, Zooey and Penelope. They go to Maret School and are just off the map delightful. My nephew and nieces were founts of history wisdom about the Belgians between the wars and country music respectively. They all have great senses of humor and the children are artistically talented as well. Rachel had her usual bons mots about how to make families work smoothly.

I love seeing my sister. She is as good a sister as there could be.

Then, a trip to Oxford, Maryland and the Robert Morris Inn. Great crab soup. Lovely visit with the local Episcopal Reverend and his wife, Kevin and Barbara Cross. Then back to DC for a well-earned sleep.

Then, today, I felt extremely ill all day. I had dinner at an expensive “fine dining” boîte near the Watergate. Not even close to as good as the Waffle House. My companion was the 41-year-old entrepreneur from Saturday. She was literally vibrating with fatigue. She works terribly long hours, manages her two ethereal daughters, and deals with processing immense amounts of income. She was game to spend time with little me when she was so tired. I felt extremely grateful. She is madly in love with an Internet billionaire, so time with me has a certain limit as to its value in any event. It made me humbled that Warren Buffett, who certainly will not get rich from me, is so willing to spend time with me.

My friend and I straggled out of that ghastly restaurant and she set out in her hybrid to her home in Virginia. She will some day be a great power and I am happy to know her.

Now, it is very late and I must go to sleep. I wish Julie were here. I miss that girl so much it hurts.

Tomorrow, Big Wifey comes to town. I am giving her a Bentley when she gets off the plane. JUST KIDDING. Also about my grand-dad giving Alex a huge diamond. I give Alex all of her jewelry and she gives me the greatest gift there could be: a love as undiluted as Fiji water. Except for her accursed seven cats. They don’t help. SEVEN CATS? That’s too many.

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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.