So Little to Complain About - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
So Little to Complain About

Orlando. I flew down here from Charlotte yesterday. I had been staying with my big wifey in Greenville, SC, to visit our son, Tommy, whom you all know, gorgeous daughter-in-law, The Kitten, and sweet sweet sweet Coco, our granddaughter, and our beloved Poinsett Club. The trip was a disaster for my wifey, who came down with a bad flu after flying. But our super fabulous driver, Bob Noah, who is really like more of a little brother to me than an employee, a voraciously eating little brother, made our trip easier and it all went well. He drove us with his usual flair. We stopped at a Burger King in Lawrenceville, Ga., where the whole crew was excited to meet me and took my picture.

Good news.… Tommy has gotten so clever and so apt in his phraseology that I believe he surpassed me some time ago. I love that kid soooo much. He really is a philosopher in some ways. And our daughter in law, The Kitten, is so beautiful it should be illegal. And our granddaughter is a dream. Enuf bragging. (That’s what we grandparents mostly do.)

She (Coco) keeps coming up to me, patting my stomach, and saying, “You have a fat stomach.” How right she is. She does that to my angel wifey, too, who is as thin as a rail.

The second night we were in Greenville, a close friend in Greenville wanted me to meet him at a strip club. My son wisely demurred, insisting that if I did, it would be on social media instantly. I really have no interest in strippers anyway. My dog is always naked and she’s perfect. So, I left him there wondering what happened to me. I feel bad about it.

I got my usual fab meals at the Waffle House. The cook, an older black man, makes many meals at once, all perfect, all after midnight in the soothing fluorescent glare of the Waffle House. I don’t think his job is much easier than a lawyer’s. But he gets paid about eight bucks an hour. That ain’t right. I came into the WH twice and gave him a ten-dollar tip each night. Then I decided that from now on, I would give him twenty dollars a night. I loved him…. toothless, polite, incredibly skilled, working his heart out and doing it beautifully. He should get paid a lot more.

The waitress was also great and I also gave her ten bucks.

I so love the Waffle House I can hardly tell you.

Also Chick-fil-A, which is a miracle of freshness and delight. Their sandwiches are head and shoulders ahead of anyone else’s. Chick-fil-A is a miracle of tasty delight.

Anyway, a nice time in the Greenville region and then off to Charlotte to fly to Orlando.

The Charlotte airport is immense and had a solitary banjo player, white, with a small beard looking like a CSA soldier minus the uniform. It was a touching sight. He was mumbling but the music was nice.

I just love the Southeastern USA. I feel more at home there than anywhere else. The climate is far better in LA, but the people of Greenville are champions and also in Atlanta and Charlotte. I think Charlotte may be my favorite small city. That is a winners’ city. 

Bob Noah, our super driver, super brother, told me that the greater DC area now has about 6 million residents. Can that be true? When I was growing up there, it was more like 1.5 million. Scary. What do they all do there? That is a bit off on a tangent.

So.… I landed in Orlando after a VERY short and pleasant flight on Delta. Then, straight to a Waffle House and then to my stunning hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes. I have stayed there many times and it’s always great. My room was not large but bright and cheery. I took a long nap. I only mention it because a nap beats any drug or drink for mental restoration.

I went out to the reception for our group, AmeriQuest, truly marvelous people. On my way there I ran into a beautiful young girl. She turned out to be a genius Israeli counter-cyberterrorism warrior. She was extremely smart and pleasant and had been a fighter in the IDF. She is just an ideal human, although not to be compared with Big Wifey.

We had a nice talk and then I visited with “Digital Doug,” head of AmeriQuest, and he was a righteous dude, too. Welcoming, smart, funny, maddeningly handsome.

Then, off to bed, watching about the murder of the American Sniper by a crazy person. It does seem to me like an open and shut case that the killer was too insane to be responsible for his actions. But then, wasn’t Himmler? Wasn’t Stalin?

There should be some thorough investigation of the drugging of soldiers and vets with psychoactive meds, uppers and downers. I know those drugs well. I am betting all I own that these drugs, plus booze, are a huge factor in veteran suicides.

This morning, I went down to the meeting room and heard a speech by a Navy SEAL named Eric Greitens. He was a fine, fine speaker. What the Seals have to go through to be SEALs is unbelievable. Just incredibly difficult. Yet they persist, fight, and die to keep us free. I was simply awed by that man and his fellow warriors.

I sit and praise them, stand and shout Hosanna, but I would no more have ever been able to do what they do than fly to the moon by flapping my arms. Eric Greitens. Remember that name. Remember the SEALs. Remember all who fight for us and their families.

My speech was well received. Then I spent lunch with my new Israeli pal. Mr. Nixon used to say that after the Japanese, the Israelis were the most capable people on the planet. (“Not the American Jews,” he added, “who are just as lazy as the rest of us.”) Why, why, why, do people hate the Israelis so much? Why does Obama hate them so much? Why do people hate Jews so much? Yes, we talk too much. Yes, we drive flashy cars, but why do people hate us so much?

(And whenever I think of this, I think of Col. Denman and Uncle Bob, and I start to cry. They were men of perfect courage and perfect love. Love, literally, as the Bible commands us to love one another. They were devout Presbyterians from Prescott, a small town in Arkansas. I never heard them say a racist word.)

Then, a hellishly long flight from Orlando to LAX. I watched two documentaries. One was about Stephen Sondheim, a brilliant music composer. He wrote “Send in the Clowns.” One of Big Wifey’s favorite songs.

The other documentary was a stunner. It was called “Paycheck to Paycheck” about a single Mom, hard working, loving, diligent, in a small southern town, struggling to raise three sweet kids on about $9.50 per hour. She is separated from her husband, who seems like a nice guy, but has no money. She works at a nursing home for old people with some levels of dementia (as far as I could tell). She has to be so tired all of the time, has to be so worried all of the time, yet has to be so loving to those kids and those senile people all of the time—how does she do it?

That is a spectacularly fine documentary. It was directed or co-directed by my old pal from Yale, Nick Doob. He was hugely talented then and still is. Please buy that movie and watch it. It tells you a lot of truth about what it means to be non-rich.

Heart-breaking, and the “star” of the documentary is my new hero.

I complain so much and have so little to complain about. That woman inspires me. It is not easy to be broke.

These last two days have been emotional. Yesterday, I met my old buddy, S/Sgt Saldivar, at the Rainbow Bar and Grille. He told me about his wounds received in Afghanistan. Shot and bleeding, almost dead, shot with a bullet that went through his body armor. Over a year in a hospital. Inspiring. Now, he teaches others how to be better soldiers. He is articulate. Charming. Modest. Hero.

Today, I took Claire Heymann and her grand-daughter, Liz, to lunch at the Polo Lounge. Claire’s daughter, Jane, one of my closest friends, could not make it. Claire is 90. She survived two years of slave labor at Auschwitz. She was starving, ill, beaten much of the time. But she survived and now has her talented daughters, Jane and Marlene and Helen, and many grandchildren. When she talks about her brothers being burned to death while still alive, she cries. “I speak about it at synagogues and town meetings so it won’t happen again,” she said with tears flowing like water.

Of course the Islamists want it to happen again and Iran has promised “a Holocaust in an afternoon….” when they get the Bomb.

Claire’s granddaughter, beautiful Lizzie, held her Omi’s hand and comforted her.

Claire’s story, S/Sgt Saldivar’s story—they put everything in perspective. I think I have problems because I have a headache or my stomach hurts. I don’t have any problems. I have the ultimate gift: to be a citizen of the United States of America. To have my family and my Julie and to be an American. The ultimate. How can I ever be grateful enough to Col. Denman and Uncle Bob and the others who fought to keep me free?

There is not enough gratitude for them and for S/Sgt Saldivar and the tens of millions like them. That is the real shortage in America. The shortage of gratitude. I drove off from lunch in the glorious California sunshine. Nope, I don’t even know what a problem is.

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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