Mr. Lonely - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Mr. Lonely

BEVERLY HILLS — For my sins, my wife, who is also by far my best friend, is out of town on a mission of mercy for not only this summer, but for most of the next twelve months. And, although I have lived in Los Angeles for almost thirty years and have many friends here and a lot to do taking care of our many dogs and cats, plus a bit of work to do each day, I am lonely.

I walk the streets of Beverly Hills with my dogs and when I see a couple smiling and talking together, I am acutely jealous — even though my wife has only been gone about five weeks so far and will come home on occasion. I do get to talk to her several times a day, and I do get to sleep in bed with my beautiful German short-haired pointer, Brigid, but I am lonely.

This puts me in mind of people who have real loneliness problems: women whose husband are in Iraq and Afghanistan. Men whose wives are in Bosnia or Okinawa. These are people with feelings every bit as real as mine, who feel pain and emptiness at least as much as I do, and they don’t see their spouses or loved ones for a year at a time. And they all dread seeing a government car coming up the street with a chaplain in it, which will mean they will never see their husband or wife again on this earth.

Then I think of women who were married to a man for 60 years, and then one day they came home from the hospital alone. Or men who never loved anyone but one woman in their whole lives — like my father with my mother — and then one day had to live, for the only time in his life, at age 80, by himself. Or the child whose father will never come through the door again because of a roadside bomb in Mosul.

There are a lot of lonely people out there. And they are hurting. Loneliness hurts like the cut of a knife. Mine is only the smallest pinprick. I’ll see my wife again soon, if all’s well. But what about the Army and Marine wives who go to sleep in their king-sized beds alone for a year? What about the Navy Seal’s wife who just heard that her husband will not be coming home from Afghanistan? Or the man who never learned to make a bed and now his wife is gone forever and he’s eating out of a can watching a TV show he can’t even hear? Or the child whose father will never teach him how to bat a ball or parallel park because he’s in a military cemetery?

Our lives are measured by what we do for others, not by how much money we make. Spending time with lonely people, military families, widows, widowers, this is a pretty easy way to make a huge difference in a suffering human life. So when you think of your uncle who just lost his aunt, when you think of the woman down the street whose husband was just called up by the Guard and sent to Iraq, don’t just think about them: ask them out to dinner. Invite them to a barbecue. Just call them up to gossip.

People are always asking me for stock tips because they think I know something about the market. Usually, I don’t. But I do know this. Sharing company with a lonely man or woman or child is about as good an investment in your own net worth as a human being as you can make. Do it today.

Ben Stein
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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.
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