book reviews

Gretchen Bonaduce describes her crappy marriage to Danny…

I am a little young for The Partridge Family. I have seen episodes of it, but I was much more of a Brady Bunch fan, even though I think The Partridge Family was funnier and had more talented actors on it. Red headed Danny Bonaduce got his big break as the bass playing, wisecracking kid, Danny Partridge, on that show. Although he was a kid at the time, he was introduced to sex and drugs at a very young age. He grew up addicted to sex, with lesser addictions to drugs and alcohol.

Hmm… is he really singing this?

Gretchen Hillmer Bonaduce was born in 1965, making her six years younger than her ex-husband. She probably didn’t watch the show that made him famous, either. She and Danny met on November 4, 1990. They got married the same day, and proceeded to stay married until November 5, 2008. Although they had 18 years and two children together, the marriage was rocky and full of craziness. Gretchen Bonaduce shares her experiences in her book, Surviving Agent Orange: And Other Things I Learned From Being Thrown Under the Partridge Family Bus. Published on August 14, 2018, this book is all about Gretchen’s marriage to Danny, as well as other assorted stuff. But it’s just 187 pages, which means the stuff isn’t all that detailed. It also includes an introduction by none other than Adrianne Curry, the very first winner of America’s Next Top Model, who also has a marriage to, and divorce from, an abusive former child star in common with Bonaduce. That alone should give anyone pause.

I decided to read Surviving Agent Orange after I happened to see the E! True Hollywood Story of The Partridge Family on YouTube a few weeks ago. Bill was away on business and I was filling my time watching documentaries and shit. I got on a roll watching E!’s classic series about stars. I never happened to see the show Breaking Bonaduce, which was all about Danny’s and Gretchen’s highly dysfunctional marriage. It aired in the mid 00s. I remember hearing about it when it was on TV, but I didn’t actually watch it. I guess I wasn’t surprised when I heard that the Bonaduces divorced, although Danny has since remarried to Amy Railsback, who is 23 years younger than he is.

According to Gretchen Bonaduce, Danny is not an easy man to love. Her book describes him as a bit of a maniac. He’s supposedly very jealous, given to rages, and addicted to substances. Still, Gretchen writes that despite everything, she’d still marry him and go through the whole thing again. My guess is that, besides her marriage to Danny giving her two children, it’s because it also allowed her an inroad into the entertainment industry.

If I had to use a word to describe this book, I’d use the word “vapid”. It’s really not long on depth or intellect and it needs editing. Bonaduce misspells names, gets some things factually incorrect (like referring to the skin disease “impetigo” as “infantigo”), mixes up the names of actors and/or 80s era television shows (for instance, confusing Growing Pains for Family Ties), and seems to blame her problems and marriage failure entirely on Danny. I will admit, he probably was responsible for a lot of their problems, but she also made some pretty serious errors herself.

For instance, toward the end of the book, she writes of how she and Danny went to Amsterdam, courtesy of Danny’s radio show. They were going to see The Rolling Stones. While they were there, Danny “forced” Gretchen to go to a sex show. Then they went to a coffee shop (she calls it a “drug cafe”). She proceeds to talk to a drug dealer and gets his number. Later, at a party, she ends up drinking something Danny spiked with Ecstasy, vomits all over an elevator, and tries to leave the country without her husband, who manages to catch her before she goes alone. Once they’ve returned to the States, she and her gay friend book first class tickets back to Amsterdam. Mid flight, she calls up the drug dealer friend, tells him she’s crazy, and meets him at a cafe, where she makes a complete ass of herself. I’m writing this because she actually admits to it in the book.

Some people might like Surviving Agent Orange because Bonaduce has a rather conversational style that may come off as warm and friendly. To me, it just seemed embarrassing. Besides, she gave her children– a girl and a boy– the legal names of Countess and Count. While it may have been her right to do that, it’s still kind of ridiculous, in my view.

I certainly have read worse books than Surviving Agent Orange. Parts of the book are legitimately funny and/or interesting. Some parts are bizarre, like her story about trying to stop Danny from eating a pie by peeing on it. Other parts are just kind of silly and, again, vapid. She doesn’t actually reveal that much, other than a few ridiculous stories about incredibly bad and irresponsible behavior, on her part and Danny’s. I’m all for oversharing about bad behavior, but if you’re going to do that, make it well worth reading.

I think if I were going to rate this on a scale of one to five, I’d give it a three. It’s not horrible. I have definitely read worse. But it really could have been a lot better than it is. I was glad to finish it and, fortunately, finishing it was somewhat easy given its relatively short length. I would recommend it only to those who really want to read all there is about either Gretchen or Danny Bonaduce. The good news is, Danny Bonaduce has supposedly quit drinking. He credits his third wife, Amy Railsback, for that.

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I don’t like ding dongs from ding dongs…

I don’t know when or why it happened, but I hate it when people ring my doorbell. Of course, that’s mainly because it makes my dogs go nuts, but I think it’s also because I grew up in a house that was also a business. My parents ran a custom picture framing and cross stitch/knitting/needlepoint business out of our home, so people were constantly coming in and out of the house. I don’t remember it bothering me back then, especially after they added on to the house and my mom’s business was on the other side of it, kind of separating it from the residence a bit more. They put in a large kitchen, too. The kitchen was next to my mom’s shop after the addition was done. Prior to that, she ran her business out of a renovated garage, which was right next to our living room. The garage later became her office.

Now that I’m an adult, I like quiet and privacy. I like talking to people, too, especially if we’re friends. However, it bothers me when I get caught off guard, especially since I frequently hang around with no makeup or bra on and in my nightie if I’m not expecting someone. I think that’s part of the reason I like this house better than the last one. There aren’t nearly as many visitors here. We’re at the end of a cul-de-sac, so there’s no through traffic. And our new landlords aren’t interested in shooting the breeze, which is fine with me.

I think it would be different if I had “girlfriends”. A lot of my friends have people they hang out with all the time. It’s almost like a sisterhood. But I don’t even really have a sisterhood with my actual sisters. They’re a lot older than I am, so we were never very close. I seem to enjoy hanging around men, anyway. They are less likely to be irritated by my sense of humor.

Now… any ding dong who comes to my door bearing these ding dongs will be greeted warmly. Chocolate will always get you far if you want to impress me.

As a child of the 70s and 80s, I was a fan of Hostess chemical laden pastries and cakes… with the exception of Twinkies. I never was a Twinkie fan. In Virginia, these weren’t even “Ding Dongs”. They were called “King Dons”. I’m sure it had to do with money.

I’ve been working on reading my latest book. It’s about Gretchen Bonaduce and her 17 year marriage to Danny Bonaduce. It’s not a bad read, except for when she writes about her friend having “infantigo”. I think she means impetigo. I had it once when I was a child. It’s not pleasant, so I empathize with her friend, who apparently is no longer among the living. She also refers to the late Princess Diana as “Lady Di”, which kind of irks me, for some reason. But just after I read about “Lady Di”, I was reminded of a scene in a movie from 1986. Children of a Lesser God was a great flick. Seems crazy that it’s been over thirty years since its release.

Children of a Lesser God… a classic from 1986. I remember William Hurt signing about “Lady Di”. Isn’t it weird how some things lead to other things? Imagine how I’d be if I had a real job? ETA: I watched the movie last night and he actually says “Princess Di”.

Well, this is a post about a whole lot of nothing. Sorry about that. I don’t have it in me to write anything else about our situation today. I’m actually in a much better mood than I was yesterday or the day before that. The weather has gotten very nice and, even though Bill will be going away for most of March, I’m feeling pretty good today. I do wish I could just hop on a plane and take a vacation or something, although those aren’t much fun when you’re alone.

You’d think that as bored and lonely as I get when Bill takes temporary leave, I’d want to make friends… I think I do want to make friends. It’s just that too many of them have turned out to be fake and/or let me down. So… here I sit. About to do another detox. Maybe this time, I’ll watch a bunch of theater releases from the 1980s.