A Letter to a Friend in Prison - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Letter to a Friend in Prison

My Dear Friend,

You cannot imagine how happy I was, and Alex was, to get your letters about life at your facility. You seem to be taking it all unbelievably bravely and well. Your tutoring in arithmetic and reading must be amazingly helpful to the other guests. I am just awed that you keep such a great attitude in prison. I am even more awed that you take the time and kind affection to send encouragement to me who lives in comfort, while you are living in a prison barracks. It is a sign of the success you will have as a public speaker and as a minister that you summon up such love for a fellow human in your Spartan circumstances. Your empathy really knows no bounds. I bow down to your superior strength as a human being.

My life goes on as usual: dealing with the many men and women who want money from me as the economy continues in low gear, dealing with certain extremely wacko people very close to me — you know very well who they are. Worrying about how I will support myself and all of my dependents in my old age — which is rapidly coming upon me.

Today, I met up with J., who, as you will recall, is the daughter of an Auschwitz survivor. She is almost entirely supported at a comfortable level by my wife and me. We do that mostly to ease the mind of her mother, who has suffered more than anyone should ever suffer. We also do it because when J. was pregnant, she planned to have an abortion. I told her that I would support her and the baby indefinitely if she would not get an abortion. The baby is now a very successful college girl. The baby’s biological father is a solid citizen, but times have been hard for him and so — as noted — wifey and I are the pretty much the family’s sole support, except for loans and scholarships the daughter gets. The mother is in considerable anxiety about money all of the time.

Anyway, I met up with the mother today to give her some money. I told her I was about to have a visit from a super wonderful family of two adults and four children from Canada. They would be tired tonight and in the mood for something quick, I guessed. Plus, I told her, they were already slated for some lavish meals and I would like for this one to be modest.

J. helpfully suggested “Ruth’s Chris” Steakhouse, one of the most expensive restaurants in America, and then the roof garden at The Peninsula, another incredibly expensive restaurant. Not helpful at all. Perfect for a woman with no money at all, at least so she says.

In the event, I took the visitors, probably the best looking family on this planet, and certainly the most enthusiastic and polite, to a great hamburger and hot dog place called “Five Guys” and it was perfect. What an amazing difference it makes in life to be around polite, enthusiastic people.

Then I took the visitors to my condos above where Spago used to be. They were happy with the view. I left them there and I assume they went to sleep.

Now, I will go to sleep. I am so happy and relieved that you are well.

Friends are the family we make for ourselves. You and Phil are my indispensable family and I miss talking to you beyond what I can say. You have once again saved my mood and you will save many a life with your ministry of God’s love, even behind prison walls.

God bless you, and good night,

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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