Double Plus Hallelujah
Ben Stein
by

Thursday

Yesterday, I moseyed over to get a shot at my doctor (I have a lot of doctors… we’ll call this one “Doctor A”). He was his usual cheery self but then he said that while I was there, I might as well get an EKG from his new ultra-compact EKG machine. I obeyed, lay down, and had Doctor A’s colleague attach what seemed like a very small number of leads to my upper body.

He took the reading and then told me that Doctor A wanted me to have a “Breathing Expulsion” test. Or maybe it was just an “exhale test.” I obediently went into another exam room and breathed into a little wire mesh doo-dad.

I then bid the people there a fond goodbye until Doctor A grabbed me and said he had to talk to me.

He did not look cheery at all now. “Tell me honestly,” he intoned. “Have you had a heart attack recently?” He looked as if he already knew the answer.

“I’ve never had a heart attack,” I said, “although I acknowledge I am overweight.”

“Look at these,” he said, waving two sheets of graph paper in front of my immense nose. “These show some significant change since your last EKG.”

“Well, come to think of it,” I replied. “Yes, I had some shortness of breath recently. Maybe that’s a heart attack.”

“Take these to your cardiologist,” he said sternly, “and see what he has to say. Meanwhile tomorrow our expert in heart tests, Susie, will be in here to give you some more tests.”

WHAT THE HECK????

I made an appointment with Susie and practically ran out the door with my pal and colleague and keeper, Judah. He kept saying, “I’m really sorry, sir.”

I could just imagine Alex trying to cope with our savings and taxes. What could she ever do? We have 13 houses and lots. Does she even know where they are? Some have mortgages and some don’t. What will she do without me?

I stopped on the way home for sushi. Maybe this one little last dab of a fatty fish will save my arteries. Pretty stupid.

Alex took the news calmly. But then we didn’t really know what the news was. It’s just that the phrase “heart attack” does not go over well in our family. I took oxygen for several hours, watched and enjoyed “Jeopardy.” Then I just stared at the ceiling.

I don’t want to die just yet. Gemma, our nurse for most of the week, came in and sat down next to Alex. Then we watched a show on “Netflix” called “The Tudors.” They were quite a bunch. The king got to have sex with almost everyone in his court, every gorgeous girl that is. He got to have anyone who crossed him executed. No Political Correctness in those days unless it was all political correctness.

I have enjoyed this life quite a lot. I can date it almost precisely from when I disliked life until I started to love life. I started to love life in the Spring of 1965. My best friend’s girlfriend, Susan Sgarlat, a genius junior at Barnard, introduced me to a young woman, beautiful, tall, willowy, a face like the map of Donegal. Her name was (and is) Mary. Freshman at Barnard. I fell in love with her in a trice and then we were inseparable for a year. When I say I loved her, I mean I really could not live without her. We would spend afternoon after noon hugging and kissing and talking to her mother about the stock market.

Then things went bad. Mary started to argue with me. When I argued back, she did not cave in.

Anyway, in just a couple of months, I was with a new girl, Alexandra Denman, Vassar ’69. She did not argue. Not ever. And I never argued with her. We were married on June 23, 1968, the day after her 21st birthday. She’s a goddess. A saint, A living, breathing deity.

Well, enough of that. I’ll write more about it later. The main point is that I have been married to Alex for roughly 51 years (we were divorced for a brief period) and I consider myself the most blessed man on the planet to have her. I also had Nixon and he was a great pleasure as well. And then, in 1988, I joined up with a 12 step program that brought me untold patience and joy.

So, I also have a son, who’s a handful but I love him like a rock. My heart leaps like a school girl’s when I see him in his home in South Carolina (a truly great state).

I don’t want to die yet.

On the advice of my doctor, I went in at 11:30 to see a woman who is an expert at reading studies on heart strength. She’s a lovely woman who is also a good Republican. We whispered conspiratorially about how much we love Trump, loathe Gavin Newsom, and then she gave me the perfect news.

“Your heart is strong,” she said. “Someone read the EKG from yesterday wrong. “

I WAS HAPPY!!! I am HAPPY. I had been scared to death.

My pal Judah and I sailed down the street to get some sushi. Yum. Others may have alcohol. I’ll take sushi.

I have miles to go before I sleep. Miles of fighting neo-anti-Semitism in the Democrat party. Miles of gratitude for Alex. For letting me be in America. For my son. For Phil DeMuth, for Judah Ben Hur. For sushi. Gratitude. That’s the ticket. For Branzino. For a life that Henry VIII could only dream of. God bless my wife. God bless my life.

God bless Susie, who discovered that my heart was still strong enough to fight the Julius Streichers of our age, some of whom will be shouting “Reparations.” God bless America and God bless The American Spectator.

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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