“Except for the fact that he was a TV star, a teen idol, a sex symbol and an international pop sensation who sold millions of records, David Cassidy and I have a lot in common.”
When I was three or four years old, I had an odd obsession with “The Patridge Family.” Somehow, without the benefit of external indoctrination, I became aware that the Partridge Family was “all-American”, “non-ethnic” and therefore “clean”. Even more troubling, I also became aware that I must’ve been un-American and unclean because of my Italian heritage. I saw Shirley Jones, David Cassidy and Susan Dey as uber-humans who lived in some antiseptic American utopia. I was quite sure that the Partridges never ate salami or provolone and that they’d be utterly disgusted if ever confronted with the stench of garlic. Obviously, looking back there is some irony that the red-haired, freckle-faced Danny Bonaduce was half-Italian, but I didn’t know that then. I didn’t think Italians could have red hair and freckles even though I myself possessed blue eyes, strawberry-blonde hair and pale skin. I was torn. I loved the Partridges, but I was also sure that if I ever walked into their living room, they’d probably recoil from the stench of sausage and peppers on my breath, and then politely suffer my presence until they had to leave to do something more exciting and important than anything I’d ever do. Even though I was born on the Fourth of July, I knew I could never be as American as Keith Partridge. Very weird and specific thoughts formed in my young, sleep-deprived brain concerning this: for instance, I was convinced that my family’s clean laundry could never smell as good as the Partridge family’s clean laundry. What’s more, I was even convinced that our clean laundry couldn’t smell as good as the Partridge family’s soiled laundry.