A Time for Forgiveness and Thanks
Ben Stein
by

Sunday

Here we are in Rancho Mirage. Our wonderful driver, Alex Becerra, drove my wife, her nurse, Gemma, our dog Julie, a ton of luggage, and me down here last night in an immense Lincoln SUV. I slept most of the way. But then, we stopped at Bob’s Big Boy in Calimesa. It bears an amazing resemblance to the Hot Shoppes, Formica-tabled family restaurants in my childhood D.C. that eventually morphed into Marriott Hotels.

The loudspeakers play only fifties music. The food is fifties food, fried chicken, meatloaf, French toast. The waiters and busers are friendly and fast. It’s super inexpensive. Dollar for dollar, you can’t beat it.

As I ate my fried chicken, I looked across the Formica at my wife. She looked tired. She has not been well for almost a year. As always, she was brave and cheerful even so.

I thought, “I’m pretty old now. My wife is pretty old. How much longer will it be until I am in the cold, cold ground of King David Memorial Park in Annandale, maybe never to see my wife again. I felt light headed, terrified. Lost.

I held her cold little left hand and said, “You are my saint. You are my goddess. You are the finest person on this earth hands down.”

My wife smiled wanly and said, “No, YOU are a god and a saint and the best person on earth.”

She couldn’t be more wrong about that, but I try to treat her like the saint she is. The Patroness Saint of Forgiveness. That’s what she is. The literal saint of forgiveness, who has forgiven me for all manner of bad behavior.

Forgiveness, I thought to myself. What a powerful tool to love. My wife doesn’t cook. She doesn’t clean. She doesn’t shop and basically she never had. She did practice law successfully for many years. But what she is the best at in the world is forgiving.

I try to learn from her and so I forgive almost everyone who does me wrong. I forgive women who have extorted me falsely. I forgive the anti-Semites at El Dorado CC who blackballed me for membership because I am a Jew. I forgive the producers who stole my credits in movies and TV shows. Hollywood is a nest of thieves and I have been lucky to get out of there alive. I forgive almost everyone.

Then, another thought struck me. I’m largely — not entirely — retired now and some days I don’t have a lot to do. I’m soon going to start a book about the psychology of Beverly Hills call girls, but that’s for the future. For right now, what should I do? I cannot predict stocks. I can tell a fair amount about the economy but that gets old after a while. I know we’re about to have a dose of inflation and that’s most of what I know. I don’t want to just endlessly talk about the same economics.

But here’s something I can do: I can call the people I love and tell them how much I love them. I can call my pal, Phil DeMuth, and thank him for his friendship and stewardship of a small part of my assets. I can call my fabulous shrink, Paul Hyman, and thank him. I can thank my main physician, Dr. Skinner, and tell him how much I love him.

I can call my sister and tell her what a great sister she has been over the past 73 years. I can thank the people who made me a famous actor, Michael Chinich and Steve Greene and above all Al Burton (who has been banned from speaking to me because I voted for Trump).

I can say prayers for Yale Law School and for Columbia and for Alpha Delta Phi and its lifetime President, Larry Lissitzyn. I can say prayers for Mary who was the first woman in my entire life who unconditionally loved me. I can reach out to the few people I know in the military and thank them on hands and knees.

I can go to 12 step meetings and share stories of recovery. I can help my pal Judah keep writing brilliantly about Trump’s America.

I cannot pick hot stocks. But I can pick men and women and dogs to show my gratitude to. I cannot move the Dow. But I can help people feel better about themselves. Above all, I can love and encourage my wife and my son and my insightful sister.

Not a bad way to spend my day.

I thought of all of this as I ate my fried chicken and today I started to make the calls.

Ben Stein
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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