Love in a bipolar world: Apparently I have a learning disability (Part 1)

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My “friend” and I were talking on Skype one night; we were on the subject of how we learned to read in grade school. She says to me in a quiet manner, “Oh well, you have a learning disability.” I started to laugh, thinking she is joking but noticed she was not laughing with me. She just had this somber look on her face like, oh he’s taking this well.

Photo by Danny Keaton
Photo by Danny Keaton

I said, “What?”

She answered with the same serious tone, “You have a learning disability.”

WTH? My whole being was just kicked in the nuts. I spent the next 30 minutes trying to convince someone I’m not slow! When we got off Skype, I’m thinking, “Did that really just happen?”

I know there is a difference between having a learning disability and being considered slow, but there’s still a social stigma attached to a L.D. The next afternoon I called her back; this was really bothering me. I made small talk at first when she answered. Then I went for her retraction of the L.D. statement from the night before.

“Hey that thing you said last night about having a learning disability, that kind of messed me up.” I expected an apology and maybe an “oh, I didn’t mean that, of course you don’t have a L.D.”

Instead, she responded with, “Well, Danny Glover had some sort of a L.D. and look how he turned out.”  WTH (again), was that supposed to be a story of inspiration? She just gave me one more punch in the self-esteem!

At times I do have a learning disability. I do the wrong things over and over again, knowing that later I’m going to pay for it immensely.  Maybe that’s not a L.D., maybe that’s just stupidity and/or insanity.

Danny in 1972 (Photo by Danny Keaton)
Danny in 1972
(Photo by Danny Keaton)

Growing up in my middle class neighborhood in the township of Lakeside, Texas, I deserved every beating I got as a kid. When my two younger sisters got their asses whooped, they learned their lesson, but I still kept vandalizing the neighborhood with some of the other kids.

One time the mayor’s son told me not to break out the street lights because they cost the city $150. Guess what I did that night? Yep, after a successful hurl of a rock, it seemed the shattered glass fell like Purple Rain in slow motion; I turned to Ronnie and said, “That was $150!”

Right now even the most liberal person would agree that I deserved a smack upside the head. That was just one of many, many stories that I have as The Asshole Kid.

 “It’s not a prank unless they have to call 911.” – 13 year old Danny

My best one was when I burned down the woods behind our backyard; I was 13 and in Junior High. This was my biggest dumbass move of them all.  I had some matches and I was trying to burn my name into the grass; I know, bright, huh?  (Even the Special Ed kids didn’t set stuff ablaze.) Unexpected to the dumbass, the grass caught quickly. I panicked and tried to stomp out the flames. To no avail it made it worse, so I bailed.

I ran back to the house thinking,“ f#!% it, I don’t know nothing about nothing!”

“I was in my room reading the Bible,” would be my story. I urgently walked into the living room, through the windows I could see the trees were now on fire! This was all happening about 100 yards from the back door of our house! I went into the bathroom and stared at myself in the mirror — one last look before my father disfigured my face. All of a sudden I hear my mom, “Danny, have you been smoking!?” Before I could answer I heard her scream, “OH MY GOD!”

The Lake Worth Fire Department was called out to the scene. Now my dad, former Air Force police officer, became a volunteer firefighter. I’m watching all this from the backyard. After the fire was put out, my father cornered me in the laundry room, his 6’3”, 260 lbs presence towered over me.

Danny, age 13 (Photo by Danny Keaton)
Danny, age 13
(Photo by Danny Keaton)

He squared off and asked, “Did you have anything to do with this?”  I slightly closed my eyes, nodded my head yes and braced myself for the first hit…

To be continued ….


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For more information and help call NDMDA Depression Hotline Support Group at (800) 826-3632 or the U.S. Suicide Hotline at (800) 784-2433.

“If you don’t know what to do, do what you know.” – M. Verdin, the documentary film My Louisiana Love


Danny Keaton

Standup Comedian – Writer – Lover – Bastard