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How does observing Heal?

by | Jan 14, 2021 | Healing, observe, The Partridge Family

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One universal comment from people of my generation about the current times is “Thank GOODNESS there is no video to observe what we did in our youth”.  As I start each week, after many comments from people observing “man do you hop around a lot!”, I now at least try to stick to a time period where the stories somewhat stay together.  The current stream is in the early 70’s when we were in Florida, and there is one story from that era that very few people know about.  Only my family of origin, my wife… and about 2000 middle schoolers…

I have written before about my friends that were musicians there – the bass player and the classical pianist.  And the talent show that happened at the end of the 7th grade where 3 different bands all played Into the Sun by Grand Funk Railroad.  As a talent show, there were many other acts that were on stage, from twirlers, to poetry readings, to the school orchestra.  I thought it would be fun to do something, but what talent could I exhibit?

I was small, had a fairly high voice, and already had a budding interest in ironic humor.  And the beginning of my life motto:  “What could possibly go wrong?”  Oh, and one more ingredient – a hit song I had learned to play on the piano from Frank Sinatra…. Something Stupid.

It turns out that Danny Bonaduce and I are almost exactly the same age. Born in 1959 in Pennsylvania, his father was a writer/producer who worked with Dick Clark on Bandstand, and then on Dick Van Dyke, and other sitcoms.  The family eventually moved to California where the precocious redhead was immediately cast into multiple small child actor roles.  When he landed the role as Danny Partridge, his life changed forever.

Now instantly recognizable, he was able to find an outlet for his natural comedic/ironic view of life… and his father became very jealous of his success.  I can’t find many details other than it is clear that the other actors (Shirley and Dave in particular) took him into their homes – because if he went home he would be subjected to both emotional and physical abuse.  While his chemistry on the show made it a major hit, it was toxic in the part of his life that mattered most as a 12-year-old boy…

If you know me well, or a family member, you may want to skip to the end, or avert your eyes for this paragraph – not about Danny, but me… on stage 😉  So, put together small, singing in a high voice, all I needed was a sight gag.  I know – my Mom can make me a costume.  And rather than play it on piano, how about just playing the chords on the coolest string instrument known – the AutoHarp!!  So here I was on stage, in a Mouse Costume, with the AutoHarp on my lap, and the person behind me says “Good luck!” – and steps on my tail, jerking it off my costume, and turning my head just as the curtain opened…

… and when I turned to face the audience, the sight gag worked… lots of laughter… and then 3 minutes of hell as I suffered through the song.  Noted for later – sight gags – 15 seconds. Next you better have something really funny.  I mostly recovered, got through the song, and observed this was not quite as much fun as it had appeared.  And I am pretty sure there are no photos or videos for you to observe, so it would have been easy to just let it slide… but one thing about Healing is it is helpful to get things out, and look at them through a different lens.  And …. if you can, laugh about them.  I can now, but honestly when I hear Sinatra sing that song… I turn the channel.  My family bundled me up and we went home and had some laughs about it… and we moved so I never saw those poor people again 😉

Danny was not as lucky, spiraling through drugs, alcohol, and lots of problems.  He described that period as “Famous and Homeless”.  He was living in a car behind the Dumpster – coming out for autographs from fans that would recognize him.  His mom would eventually call and say she was worried about the call she was going to get that he was dead… and that got his attention… mostly.  He eventually became a Radio DJ on the Loop in Chicago, and here he is on one of his later birthdays with David Cassidy performing the song for today.  Again ironic because David HATED this song… to the point that he had to be threatened to do it… and it became a number #6 hit, and #1 in Canada…

Comedy is always on the edge of reality, and often it is covering up some very dark stories.  Mine is pretty easy to stomach – well for you it is 😉  But as you are thinking about Healing, how can you leverage your own foibles to help others observe that you may not be as put together and perfect as it appears.  Something I have observed over and over is that being vulnerable is hard… and also, it is one of the fastest ways to deepen relationships.  Most of us are just making it up as we go… which is particularly true of leading people and teams.  What can you let others observe about you to make you more human, more real, and more in need of… them? Or better said, Doesn’t Somebody Want to be Wanted?


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