Team Player - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Team Player

Monday — January 3, 2011
What I did over my Christmas and New Year’s vacation:

I drove down to Rancho Mirage from Beverly Hills with my fwife, threef German Short-haired Pointers, and a Maltese. We ran into heavy traffic, stopped for food, ran into more traffic, got to our house. I swam under the stars. My wife watched a literally endless series of reruns of her favorite two shows, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and NCIS.

The latter always reminds me that I repeatedly pitched a series about criminal investigators within the Navy about twenty-five or thirty years ago when I was in the TV production game. Of course, it never got picked up.

My pal Al Burton and I also pitched to a big Silicon Valley law firm a yearbook that would be online and where you could list all your pals and you could stay in touch online. The man we talked to at the law firm raved about what a great idea it was but we never heard from him again. I would guess there are about ten million Americans who have similar tales of woe. Success goes to those who actually work at something and complete it, not to those who just have an idea.

By the way, this reminds me that I really miss working as a part of a  team. I really only felt I did it a few times in my life. The best time by far was at the Nixon White House under the capable leadership of Dave Gergen, with the brilliant John Coyne and Aram Bakshian teaching me the ropes. The second best time was at the Yale Law School Film Society. Wow, we had fun renting movies and showing them at Yale, and bringing in Jean-Luc Godard (who turns out apparently to be a big anti-Semite, so I read), and Russ Meyer, and Abe Polonski (I may have that name spelled wrong ), and the man who directed It Happened One Night, now, what was his name?? The best part of that was going around the campus at Yale putting up flyers. I did that with my pal Peter Presto Broderick and we talked about movies the whole time. I was thin and hip and I would flirt with the girls I met even though I had the most beautiful girl at Yale as my wife (she’s still my wife). It seemed to me that those days would never end, but they did. Anyway, I miss being part of a team.

I guess I am part of The American Spectator Team and The NewsMax Team and the Fox News Team and the CNN Team and the most gilded part of my life, the Tiffany Network CBS Sunday Morning Team. But it’s not the same as walking around Yale in the New England autumn.

Then there was another team: my dear genius pals Arthur Best and Gale Miller and I doing litigation at the FTC. They were and are great guys and super duper smart. But that was hard, drudge work with yucky deadlines and much better lawyers than I was on the other side. We lost our big case and I learned that litigation is not for me.

Well, the guys who made Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, I guess, were a team. But on that one road we traveled we are shattered or split. Oh, and of course, I am always grateful for being part of the Ferris Bueller Team and the mighty Win Ben Stein’s Money Team and The Wonder Years Team.

Actually, now that I think of it, my wife and I are a team, too. That’s the best team. She’s my partner, as her Big Daddy grandfather used to say about her back in Idabel. Well, anyway, I miss Yale back in the day. I miss being young and part of a team. I guess I like being on TV the most, though. Enough maundering.

The next morning, I swam again, and then went off to my beloved 12-step meeting. Words cannot convey how much I love that meeting. I love the humility, the sharing, the fellowship, the connection with God, the way we laugh at our own weaknesses. If I could afford to do it, I would stay in 12-step meetings all day until I had to go home and go to sleep.

Then, wandering around a shopping center. Then, wandering around Saks Fifth Avenue, where I bought my wife some of her many Christmas gifts. Then, back to our house to have a late lunch.

We ate at the clubhouse at Morningside, CC, the club where we belong. It is a great place and the cheeseburgers are extraordinary. Truly great. From where we sit, we usually can see golfers coming in from their 18 holes. However, today it’s raining.

Then, home for a nap. I always nap on my back listening to Mozart’s Requiem and a small snippet of the Laudate Dominum and about fifteen minutes of Exultate Jubilate. I fall into such a deep sleep I forget where I am or even who I am.

Then, off to my pitiful computer to work on my new book. It’s a SECRET what it’s about. No, it’s not a secret. It’s about how I would handle various situations. It’s sort of funny and also helpful, I hope.

Then, off to dinner at Pacifica, a great restaurant in Palm Desert. The rain had stopped and we ate outside under heat lamps, looking at the snow peaked mountains lit by the moon.

Then, home to read the best biography I have read in decades, David and Julie Eisenhower’s magnificent bio/memoir or the last eight years of Dwight Eisenhower’s life.  The book is called Going Home to Glory. Get it. Read it.

I won’t review it here because John Coyne will do that and he’ll do it far better than I can. Let’s just say it is insightful, comprehensive, lively, and deeply touching. I’ll let John tell you more.

Then, e-mail, then swimming late at night, and then to bed.

It is cold as ice when I swim at night but I keep the pool warm. I can see infinities of stars, snow on the mountains, the moon through the clouds, brightly lit airliners flying into PSP right over my head. It’s pretty nice. It’s paradise-level nice.

That was the pattern. There were some big variations, though.

My super funny and smart sister and brother in law came out from New York for New Year’s Eve. That was a lot of fun. My son and his staggeringly beautiful wife came out for New Year’s. Also fun. I met a woman at the drugstore in Rancho Mirage named Inge Bongo who used to be married to the President of Gabon, a Mr. Bongo, who has many mistresses and children. She is reputedly on welfare now even though Mr. Bongo is a billionaire.

I took many many naps with my ancient Brigid, the incontinent but still beautiful German Short-haired Pointer I love. The fire blazed and Brigid snored and I thanked God.

On New Year’s Eve, I took a lot of people to dinner at our clubhouse. The food was spectacular. Music, so-so. I kept wondering what New Year’s Eve is like for soldiers on patrol in the mountains of Afghanistan. Probably not prime rib and lobster for dinner. Probably MRE’s in some freezing hellhole. God bless those men and their families and all who serve, who keep us big babies safe in our grassy and watery playpens. Thank you, God.

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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