What a World | The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
What a World
by

So.… It is Thursday and I am in Vegas. I got here this afternoon to get ready for a cocktail party for a super group I am speaking to at 7 tomorrow morning. I am at the Aria Hotel, a fairly new place with superb views.

My lecture agent met me at the lobby door, which was unbelievably kind of him. There were a couple of little problems, though.

One is that this hotel, like most big Strip hotels, has fantastically long, depressing halls. I had a bell man but it was still a long walk. Too long.

The far worse, incomparably worse, problem is that I have a pal named Al who meets me at LAX and helps me with my trip. He’s been my pal and comfort for at least fifteen years. He told me this morning that his wife died last week. I knew her. She was a beautiful woman named Lila. She’s been fighting cancer like a champion and had every kind of treatment imaginable. She had a lengthy period of recovery. But just recently she got much worse. Ten days ago, she told Al she could not fight anymore, held his hand, fell asleep, and never woke up.

It is so sad it’s just unbearable. Losing a spouse is just too hard. God should have made it so both die at once. Al is a brave man, but he is flattened and it’s cruel and horrible.

I rested for a while in my hotel room. Then my lecture agent and I went over to the Cosmopolitan for the cocktail party. The Cosmo is a lot glitzier than the Aria. And it’s crammed with hip young people.

It also has REAL snow blowing over a heated swimming pool. Real, cold, wet snow. And an ice skating rink. And food and drinks. And back in L.A., Al no longer has a wife.

I stayed only about an hour at the party, even though the other guests were absolutely delightful. I have to get to sleep. I have to be up at 5:30 tomorrow. My speech event begins at 7 AM and that’s early for me.

I worked on some revisions of my speech to make it a lot less technical about the failures of monetary policy and supply side. Instead, I put in stories about how Hollywood works. Only good stories, though. None of the stories of how networks would not put my name on the screen because I worked for Nixon even though I wrote the story for the miniseries Amerika. None of the stories about how I had to sue in every single case where a story of mine got made to get even minimal credit. If I told how tough Hollywood was, if I admitted even to myself, I might get angry and I cannot get angry. I have to work on my speech.

However… at about 10, my wifey, who has been quite unwell, called me in a hot panic. An LAPD helicopter was flying over our neighborhood in Beverly Hills telling people via loudspeaker that a felon was loose and that they should lock their doors and stay inside.

Alex was scared. She wanted to know how to load the gun. “The gun is loaded,” I said. I told her where it was and gave her very minute instructions on how to use it. She stayed on the phone for a long time. She was REALLY scared.

“What about the dogs?” I asked. “They’ll guard you. Right?”

“No, they’re on the bed shivering,” she said.

Meanwhile, on the TV, CNN is wondering what the motive could have been in the San Berdoo massacre. Hmm. That’s a tough one.

Let’s see. The killers are devout Muslims. The woman pledged her allegiance to ISIS online. They had dozens of bombs and thousands of rounds of ammo. They had remote control devices for detonating bombs. Hmmm.

Probably it was just workplace stress.

Or maybe it was an accident. We don’t want to rush to judgment.

I called Alex back repeatedly and she seemed calmer with the gun in her hands. Everyone I know either has a gun or wants a gun. The whole gun control movement has collapsed.

Also on TV is a San Bernardino cop named Lt. Madden talking about all the hits the cops have taken in the media and how it hurts. But they go in and risk their lives anyway.

I wonder… who does the ordinary citizen trust more? The cop in his patrol car? Al Sharpton? Obama? Gosh, that’s as tough as figuring out the motive in the San Berdoo bloodbath.

Friday
I got up at 5:30, watched more TV, looked at the stunning pink sunrise, got dressed, and headed to my speech. It went great. Really smart people. Great sense of humor. Just a dream audience.

Then back to my room and into a deep sleep. I slept as I listened to Dr. Dre and his “2001″ album. He is some amazing genius. I am not kidding at all. A genuine supernova of brilliance. Very salty lyrics. But awfully smart.

Then off to McCarran. My driver looked sad. I asked him about himself. He turned out to be an Ethiopian journalist. He had criticized the government and then a gunman shot him. He barely survived. Then he went to a conference in D.C. and got political asylum. But his wife and kids are still in Addis Ababa and he’s not allowed to talk to them or they all get in trouble.

This is a very troubled world. How could it not be with such crazy people in it? The basic human is a scary creature. Not in my world, but in too many places.

At McCarran, named for RN’s pal, Pat McCarran, my greeter told me a long, long story about a domestic relations nightmare he was going through. More suffering.

On the plane, I sat next to a Muslim woman who wanted my advice on investing. “Just buy the market and forget about it for thirty years,” said I. (She repeatedly made a point of telling me she was a Muslim. That’s why I mention it.)

Ahead of us was a duo of sweet girls who had just had a birthday in Vegas and stayed up until 5 AM. One of them was from France. I spoke to her in French. She was 27. It occurred to me that I had studied French at Montgomery Blair High School in 1960-62. Roughly as many years before that girl was born as she has been on earth. My teacher was Miss Dorsett from Mississippi. She had a mad crush on me but I was far too stupid to do anything about it. She let me drive her MG.

At LAX, Al seemed lost in a bottomless pit of sorrow. Not surprising at all. It is just unbearable.

My wife was at home, pale and wan and weak. We ordered a Domino’s pizza and brownies. She ate with great enthusiasm and now she is asleep.

As for me, I paid property taxes and mortgage bills and now I am going to swim.

What a world.

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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