Posted: March 19, 2013 in Acting, Life, Mom, Russ
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

With Nancy in the mix, Mom started getting concerned that Russ’s other students were vying to take my place. She was concerned with stuff like that in general – she’d be at auditions, checking out the “Competition”. She’d get worried if some kid came along that looked similar to me but gave a great read, or was more handsome or had a cooler look. She had these little rivalries that went on in her head with people – they rarely ever even came to the surface, beyond private conversations with me. She would decide (based mostly on whether or not they were “Competition” and whether or not they were any good) that the mother was nasty, or the kid was ugly, or they were out to get us. I remember one kid, who was always at auditions with us, and his mother would sit there and talk to my Mom. Now, I grant you, this lady was a little creepy. She was always talking about how hot her son was or how if she were a girl she’d be into him. This went on for, oh…maybe a couple of months. One day – for no reason anyone was aware of – Mom blew her top. If there was a conversation that preceded this, it was simply the average banter of stage mothers sitting in a casting office.

Mom: Tommy has had his day in the sun! He’s finished! It’s our turn.

Tommy’s Mom: …what?

Mom: And…and…if you think he’s so hot why don’t you just sleep with him, then!

The kid’s mom was flabbergasted. Her jaw was open and she was just stunned into silence. She never talked to Mom again, which was just fine as far as she was concerned. I thought it was kind of funny, though a little uncalled for.

Occasionally – and this happened maybe a dozen times over my career – Mom would latch onto someone and consider them a real threat. Usually this was someone we had zero contact with (or maybe, at best, saw them once or twice) – yet somehow she got it into her head they were behind the scenes scheming against us. One such person was Joey Lawrence. You guys might remember him from the 90’s sitcom Blossom – he was famous for saying “Woah.” a lot.  He was one of Russ’s students – hence, we had a tenuous (at best) connection with him. To my knowledge, though, we never met him in person so I really don’t know how he popped into her head like he did. I remember Mom insisting Joey and/or his family were tapping our phones (they weren’t), or that Joey would try to set me up to go to jail for drugs. This is literally the conversation we had, at least a couple times.

Mom: Danny, I want you to keep your backpack zipped up all the time.

Me: …okay? There’s nothing anyone would want to steal. Just books…

Mom: No, I think Joey might want to put something in it.

I knew exactly who she was talking about – she had been fussing about him nonstop. She had even called and asked my agent if she knew and worked with Joey. I guess she was trying to find out information or something.

Me: Mom, nobody is going to plant drugs on my backpack.

Mom: Well, they might! And if they do, your career is over! You will be in jail!

There was no point in arguing – she was really wound up. I have only ever seen fervent defense attorneys and earnest TV Preachers speak with as much passion and emphasis as she did.

Mom: You. Will be. A DITCH DIGGER.

I laughed – I couldn’t help it. The word struck me funny.

Mom: I AM SERIOUS! If you don’t zip up your backpack and keep it with you AT ALL TIMES, you will rot in jail and be a ditch digger.

Me: Okay, Mom.

I had to look out the car window – I could no longer suppress the big smirk that was coming and I didn’t want her to see it. This whole conversation – especially how grave she was being – struck me as amusing for some reason. Besides – I was about 80-90% sure she was confused, at best. But there was that little part of me that wondered if she wasn’t right – I was a kid after all. As far as I knew, my Mom knew more than I did (at least, she claimed to have a lot of important knowledge about things I “couldn’t know yet”). Even today, with years of therapy under my belt I question my own perceptions often. I am sure – fairly sure, anyway – that I perceive something a certain way. But maybe I’m wrong. And then the self doubt sets in. As a result, I’m probably the most thorough person I know (besides my brother) – I research things to the end of the earth, just to be conclusively sure. Still, doubt sometimes lingers. I think it’s habit formed from growing up in a household where questioning perceptions was a daily (even hourly) activity.

She’d harass Russ about Joey too – asking Russ if Joey was conspiring against us (Russ told her he was not). Asking Russ if we had anything to “worry about” in regards to Joey. Russ would usually tell her no or give her one of his ambiguous answers. Regardless of what he said, she would analyze the hell out of it. If he was straightforward and told her “No, Joey Lawrence isn’t plotting against you” she would inevitably decide it was not the “right Russ” that told us this – it was possibly a Russ who was in league with Joey and the shadowy powers aligned against us.

I asked Mom a few times why all these people I didn’t even know were out to get me. I assumed these people had lives and families – surely they couldn’t have time to just come after me 24/7. I don’t remember her exact wording, but the upshot was that i was so talented that I was a serious threat to the “system”. And they either needed to “make” me (i.e. the Mafia backing me) or they needed to get rid of me – get me thrown in jail, or assassinated. I don’t care how old you are – if hearing that doesn’t give you one hell of a complex, I don’t know what will.




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