The Time Tony Danza Was On The Show

Lorenzo Carmichael was a fine talk show host on a moderately well known network. A real old pro. Every night he would come out, hair slicked back, suit immaculately tailored, buffed shoes shining under the studio lights. Every night he would move around the stage with a balletic grace, balancing personal anecdotes with witty banter that he shared with his moderately well known guests. Yes, for Lorenzo Carmichael things were going quite well indeed. There was just one thing.

He always wished he could get Tony Danza on the show.

He would spend his days talking about how he could get Tony Danza to appear on the show. Tony Danza’s smiling likeness would taunt him on the covers of all the magazines in all the supermarkets (this was during a particularly hot patch in Tony’s career). He would even have fights with his wife who didn’t understand her husband’s obsessions with, “the man from Who’s the Boss”. And at night after the fights were over, he would dream that he was interviewing Tony Danza.

Then one day Tony Danza appeared on his show.

Bursting through the guest entrance to screams of surprised delight from the studio audience, Tony Danza shook Lorenzo’s hand (!!). The perfect handshake. Dry. Firm, but not overly so. Flashing a toothy grin, he performed a sort of half wave to the crowd that communicated the message of “aw shucks”. When he sat down in the guest seat, it was sort of in a way no one had ever sat down before, you know? He laughed politely at all of Lorenzo’s pre-written jokes, which made him all the more likeable.

At the break he leaned in close and smiled again, only this time it was a different smile. This smile was tenderer – more intimate. Perhaps there was a touch of vulnerability to it. Gah! Don’t be so silly, Lorenzo! He’s an actor! He’s paid to make his face look like things! He held Lorenzo’s gaze for a moment. Lorenzo could smell Tony Danza’s expensive cologne. When he finally spoke it was simple:

“Everything is going to be good.” 

The days and weeks that followed the show, Lorenzo spent basking in the post-Danza glow. He had finally found closure it seemed. “Everything is going to be good.” He would tell everyone he crossed. “Tony Danza told me so.” For a while things were good.

But as weeks turned into months and months into years, things started to change. The specifics of that evening faded from Lorenzo’s memory: Tony Danza’s smile, his suit, his expensive cologne. “Everything was going to be good,” Lorenzo would still say, but the seemingly insignificant details that were crucial to the overall experience of actually meeting Tony Danza had been rinsed out of what he was saying. What was left was a distilled version of a memory. “Everything is going to be good,” became shorthand for an experience Lorenzo didn’t truly remember. An experience that itself was the yardstick against which every subsequent experience was measured.

So when Lorenzo died twenty-two years later surrounded by his friends and family, he couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Because, yes, things had been good, but nothing had ever been quite as good as the time Tony Danza was on the show.

Ben Brown