The Ballad of Pam & Tommy Lee

Page 6 of 7

"You're mean!"

I followed her. I hated fighting in front of the kids. It was hard enough trying to raise them with paparazzi everywhere; the least we could do is set a healthy example as parents. I sulked toward Brandon's room to talk to him. But she had picked him up and was shielding him as he cried.

"Let go of him," I said. "I'm going to take him outside. Do you want to go see the frogs, Brandon?"

Our backyard pond had suddenly filled with frogs over the winter, and I thought it would be a good place to breathe deep and chill out. "Get out of here!" she screamed hysterically.

"Listen," I said. "I'm going to take him out to the frogs so that he can calm down. You stay with Dylan so you two can calm down. Everyone just needs to stop screaming."

But everyone kept screaming, except Pamela, who wasn't speaking to me again, which made it impossible to resolve anything.

I took Brandon's hand, and she pulled him away from me. Suddenly, we were wrestling over him and everyone was getting mental again. No matter what I did, the situation just escalated. As I wrested Brandon from her, I pushed her and she tumbled backward into a little blackboard covered with chalk drawings our kids had made. She tried to catch herself on the blackboard with her hands, but the face of the board swiveled and she broke her nail.

Before she could finish yelling, I had taken Brandon by the hand and walked outside with him. I took him to the frog pond and sat him down. As he sniffled, I told him that Mommy and Daddy love each other very much, and we love him very much. I promised him that we would never get angry and raise our voices again if it scared him. I picked up a mellow little frog and cupped my hands around it. As my hands closed around it, it started struggling. "That's how Daddy feels sometimes. That's why it's good to go outside, breathe the fresh air and clear your head."

After we both calmed down and dried our tears, we headed back inside. I tried to find Pamela to apologize and suggest ordering some dinner. I searched every room downstairs and couldn't find her. I brought Brandon to his playroom and, as I sat him down with his toys, I heard voices behind me. I turned around to see two cops standing there.

"Turn around, Mr. Lee," they barked at me.

"For what?"

"Turn back around."

I turned around and felt cold metal wrap around my hands, followed by two clicks. "You're handcuffing me? Are you fucking kidding me? Handcuff her, too. She hit me in the face."

"We don't care, Mr. Lee."

"But . . . "

They led me downstairs, past the living room (where Pamela was now sitting with her parents), out the front door and into the back of the squad car. Then they left me there alone while they went back inside to question Pamela. I relaxed when I realized that they were probably just separating us so they could question us in private. An hour later, the officers stepped out of the house. One of the cops was carrying a Civil War-era pistol that I had on the wall as decoration, and when I saw it, my heart sank. I knew they were going to somehow twist the antique into a firearm-possession charge, which violated a probation sentence I had picked up four years ago after I packed a semiautomatic pistol in my travel bag and stupidly carried it through an airport metal detector.

The cops climbed into the car and backed out of the driveway. "Hey, where are you going?" I asked, panicked.

"You're going downtown."

Again, I felt a situation that should have been easy to deal with spiraling out of my control into something that was going to be a real pain in the ass. "Dude, you guys didn't even talk to me yet. You are only listening to her side of the story. What about my side?"

They didn't say a word. They just ignored me and kept driving. And I just rammed my head into the wire mesh separating the front of the car from the back seat. I kept bashing it against the wire helplessly, yelling. "Why won't you fucking listen to me? Fucking talk to me!" I had turned into a child again, because I was being given the silent treatment. And silence equals death.

Tommy Lee was charged with felony spousal abuse, and, after pleading no contest, he was sentenced to six months in jail on May 20th, 1998.

I'll never forget that bus ride from the courtroom, chained to the fucking seat, still in the suit I had been wearing in front of the judge fifteen minutes before.

They brought me into a room at the jail and undressed me. I stood there scared shitless and butt naked except for the rings on my nipples, my nose and my eyebrow. An officer ran to get wire cutters. He clipped my nipple rings and my nose ring, but he couldn't get my earrings off, because they're surgical steel. Then he handed me my jail gear: blue shirt, black shoes and a bedroll with a towel, plastic comb, toothbrush and toothpaste.

The officers led me back into the corridor. As they led me past the other prisoners, I saw rows of gnarly mother-fuckers, yelling shit like "Welcome, man" and "I'll teach you how to treat a lady." Half were excited, the other half wanted to kick my ass for fucking with a chick they probably whacked off to every night. The walk seemed like a mile, and I was so scared my knees buckled and the cops practically had to drag me. They threw me in an isolated cell and shut the heavy door, which sent a loud metallic thud reverberating through the cellblock. It was the loneliest fucking sound I'd ever heard.

This was the room I was supposed to spend the next six months in. It was basically a rock of concrete broken up only by a metal bed with a useless half-inch mattress. I had no one to talk to, nothing to write with and dickshit to do. Whenever guards walked by, I would ask them for a pencil and they would always ignore me. They were trying to let me know that I wouldn't get any special treatment from them. The spoiled little brat in me was about to be taught a lesson. Because if he didn't grow into a man in this place, he never would.

After six or seven days of just sitting there going crazy with the knowledge that I had five months and three weeks of this shit left, a half-size pencil came rolling under my door. A day later, a Bible materialized under the door. Then little religious pamphlets called Our Daily Bread started appearing every few days. I'd lie around with the Bible and pencil, reading Our Daily Bread and thanking whoever had given me these priceless gifts, because I needed something to get my mind off the boredom and the torture. I must have replayed every moment of my relationship with Pamela in my head a thousand times.

I couldn't understand why Pamela had followed through with pressing charges. She was probably scared and thought I was some crazy, violent monster; she probably thought she was doing the right thing for the kids; and she probably wanted an easy way out of a difficult situation. As much as I loved Pamela, she had a problem dealing with things. If something wasn't right in her life, she'd rather get rid of it than take the time to work on it or fix it. She fired managers like I changed socks; personal assistants and nannies would blow through our house like pages of a calendar. So the way I understood it, what Pamela did to me was, basically, fire me. I was fucking fired.

I needed to stop torturing myself and get some fucking good out of the experience, so I came to the conclusion that my mission was introspection. I needed to search inside myself and find the answers I was looking for. And the best way to do that was to stop finding faults with Pamela and other people and start finding the faults that lay within myself. At first, I just started writing on the walls. Most of what I wrote began with the word why: "Why am I here?" "Why am I unhappy?" " Why would I treat my wife like this?" " Why would I do this to my kids?" " Why don't I have any spirituality?" " Why, why, why?"

As time passed, I began to have more contact with the outside world. No one was allowed to send books to the jail, because people would mail novels with pages dipped in acid and shit. But through my lawyer, I was able to order three books every ten days on Amazon.com. I picked up books on the three things I most wanted to improve: relationships, parenting and spirituality. I put tai chi diagrams up on my walls, learned about pressure points underneath my eyes that release stress, and became an expert on self-help books and Buddhism. I was determined to give myself a full-blown psychological, physical and musical tuneup.

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