Ben Stein's Diary

Sandpoint When It Shimmers

Fame and bills come due.

By 7.8.14

Ben Stein
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Monday, July 7
Another perfect day in Sandpoint. Instead of my usual late sleep, I got up, had a modest breakfast, and went for a walk along City Beach. Hardly anyone was there and the lake was glass. I was sitting at a table looking at the water when a woman with her gray hair tied in a pony tail — always a bad sign — sat down unbidden across from me. Another bad sign.

“You’re Ben,” she said. “Right?”

“Right.”

“I used to see you around and now I never do,” she said. “I used to see you on TV and now I never do.”

“I’m on quite a lot,” I said. “Fox, CNN, CBS. Many places.”

“In fact,” the woman said, “I thought you were dead.”

“Why on earth would you think I was dead?”

“Because I haven’t seen you on TV for such a long time,” she said.

“I just told you I am often on,” I said. “Besides, I suppose there are people who are both not on TV and not dead.”

The woman drew a heavy sigh. “Would you like to have breakfast with me?” she asked.

“No, thank you.”

She looked highly confused and started to cry. “I live in the wilderness,” she said. “I haven’t had a TV for more than thirty years.”

“Well, it’s not surprising that you haven’t seen me on TV then,” I said to her as gently as I could.

“I know,” she said. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said what I said. I guess that’s why I live in the wilderness.”

“Good luck,” I waved to her as I got up and walked away.

She got into a battered Nissan van and just sat at the steering wheel crying. I felt terrible for her. But I think she’s probably better off living in the wilderness.

I went home and made some eggs. I opened up my emails. There was one from a woman who used to live near me in Malibu. She wanted to know if I would let her live in our home in Malibu while she found a house to rent. Short answer, “No.” But there’s more to the story. She’s getting divorced. The last I had heard from her about six months ago was that she was madly in love and was getting married. “What happened?”

“I found out he was cheating on me with at least 15 different men,” she wrote back. “It was quite a blow.”

“What made you like him in the first place?” I asked her.

“He’s a great guy,” she said. “But I noticed he was jealous and usually the jealous ones are the ones who are fooling around themselves.”

The woman in question lives in Alaska. “I’m impressed at how far he must have had to drive.”

“Oh,” she said, “he has a pilot’s license and a small plane.”

She added a LOL sign and then said, “And our sex life was great. Well, not great, but good.”

This poor creature. God help her. She has no money. Guess where she hopes to get it. Not going to happen.

I gave her the name of a realtor I know in Malibu and said goodbye. Look at all the lonely people.

I went off to the post office, which is the watering hole here in Sandpoint, to send in many bills. All I ever do is pay bills. That’s it. Just pay bills.

Then a long nap and then off to Bottle Bay with Tim Farmin, ace boatman, and Alex, Ace Wifey. Before we left, I asked Alex to hand me a Peppermint. As she was unwrapping it, it fell on the carpeted floor. Alex picked it up, blew on it, and handed it to me. IT WAS SO CUTE LIKE WHAT A LITTLE KID WOULD DO!!!!

That is the kind of moment that makes my life worthwhile. Alex is all her sweetness blowing the cooties off my Peppermint. Worth more than diamonds.

Zooming to Bottle Bay. Wolfing down Chutney burgers. Watching a stunningly statuesque woman walk in wearing a halter top. Alex said, “Vavavoom.”

Then, back home, another nap, and a trip to Wal-Mart. There are legions of friendly people at Wal-Mart. Friendly, helpful people. And many Christians who thank me for Expelled. And who should be shopping for produce right near me but the sexbomb in the halter top with two little kids in tow.

 “I recognize you,” she said, “and I just want to tell you that I’m from Whittier and I think Richard Nixon was the best President we ever had.”

A beauty and a genius. I bought her a Bentley.

JUST KIDDING ABOUT THE BENTLEY!!!!

Then to get a strawberry milkshake for Alex at the Dairy Depot. A young woman holding the hand of a small girl of about six, both with flaming red hair, pointed to me and asked the little girl, “Remember how you said you wanted to be famous?”

“Uh-huh,” said the girl.

“This man is famous,” she said. “He’s been in a lot of movies.”

The little girl looked dubious. “What movies?” she asked. “Any that I saw today?”

When I got home, wifey was fast asleep. She has waves of goodness vibrating off her when she sleeps, an aurora borealis of kindness and love and when I lie next to her, I feel as if I am under the covers on a chilly day.

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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.