I’m seeing Tony Danza everywhere. I’m not surprised—I just wish Judith Light would make an appearance. Without Light’s Angela Bower, Tony’s unequivocally boss. Except with so many Tonys—Tony at the deli, on the airplane, raking leaves—which one’s the leader? It’s especially perplexing when they gather in groups. On the basketball court Tonys shout “You have H,” “You have H-O-R-S,” and it’s cute they’re still competitive. The Tonys take their basketball game home and foul in the kitchen, the ball landing in a giant pot of marinara sauce
—except it’s Sophia Petrillo’s cooking pot from the set of Golden Girls, and it’s a Sicilian clam sauce, and Estelle Getty’s dead.
Why do I see all these Tonys? An unwatched VHS-tape burned a wormhole that’s shooting them through the space-time continuum. See, when I was in high school Mom recorded a made-for-TV movie in which Tony Danza played a sanitation worker in NYC. She thought I’d like to watch it because I watched so much Who’s the Boss?. But I didn’t watch the tape, and I didn’t have passionate feelings for Tony Danza. I liked Angela, Angela’s longing for Tony, and Tony’s longing for Angela. I was in love with their longing, that magical third voice emerging when unmet desires harmonized.
Most of the Tonys still talk about baseball. The heartbreak of stranding teammates on second and third. They know longing. Most of them never played in the Bigs. Nobody got a pennant or a World Series ring. Some of the Tonys feel deprived. One Tony stands over my shoulder while I Google “insecure attachment.” Tony and I wonder if we might be one of those insecurely-attached people (one-in-three Tonys is insecurely attached according to the website). The quiz says I’m anxious-preoccupied, and Tony suggests that’s why I hang around TV people.
Tonys go around “Ay-oh, oh-ay”-ing at each other, reminiscing about Brooklyn, and playing stickball in the street. Most of the houses on my street are Air B&B rentals—everyone’s on a wine tour so nobody’s home when a fly ball busts a window and Tony goes to the front door to say sorry. But in my living room Tony dusts the bar cart and the upper ledge of hanging pictures from IKEA. My wife doesn’t notice the good work he’s doing or how he helps me get through the day. She’s Italian—has her father’s hands that talk like Tonys’—but she’s busy watching MSNBC and soccer, so she doesn’t see any Tonys at all. Our couples’ therapist tells us to stop watching TV while we eat dinner, but we eat dinner so we can start watching TV. In different rooms. On different floors. We don’t hate each other, but life is hard.
I'm getting hungry. Tony offers to make meatballs, but I stick leftovers in the micro. I turn on the TV and ask Tony about his day, whether he’s finally going to be honest about his feelings for Angela.