Things just went downhill from there. Ever since Vince had returned to the band, I was unhappy with the direction we were going in, which was backward. When I went onstage, I just didn't feel it anymore. For the first time, I wasn't excited about what we were doing. I was trapped by what we were doing, and a drummer who feels like his hands are tied is no fucking good.
I'd just had my second child, and fatherhood doesn't exactly come with a fucking instruction manual. I read some shit and tried to dive in and learn, but Pamela kept saying everything I did was wrong. I used to be at the top of the charts with Pamela. When Brandon was born, I dropped to Number Two because, at that age, of course, a child needs his mom all the time. So I walked around like the invisible man. I'd say, "Hey, baby, what's up? I love you." And she'd just nod, not paying attention. I'd ask her to come down to the garage and listen to some new music I was working on; she'd promise to be there in a minute, then she'd completely forget.
Then, when Dylan was born, I dropped down to Number Three. Now I was full-on nonexistent. And I couldn't deal with that. I'm a guy who loves to give love and loves to get love back. But at home, all I was doing was giving. I wasn't getting jack back. So, unable to step back and see the situation from any reasonable perspective, I turned into a whiny, needy little brat. Maybe it was my way of becoming Pamela's third child, so I'd get the attention I needed, too. Now, all of a sudden, Pamela and I were arguing all the time. Our relationship had slowly degenerated from pure love to love/hate.
On Valentine's Day, when we should have been all about fucking love, we went to the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas. I asked a florist to fill the room with rose petals, ordered a bottle of Dom Pérignon and set the perfect mood for our first night alone in months. But after a few glasses of champagne, Pamela became so worried about being away from the kids that she couldn't even enjoy herself. All she could talk about was breast-feeding Dylan, and all I could think about was that it was my turn to be breast-fed. The next day, we went to see the Rolling Stones play downstairs, and it was all bad. She saw a stripper talking to me after the concert, and we got in a huge-ass blowout in the middle of the casino. I grabbed her to take her into the room so the fucking gossip columns wouldn't be filled with news of us fighting in public, and she went ballistic. Our anger kept escalating until she finally ran out of the hotel, took the car and drove back to Malibu, alone. I had to crawl back to the house on my hands and knees, begging for mercy.
The week afterward, I was in the kitchen cooking dinner for Pamela and the kids. Everything was quiet and cool again, and we were splitting a glass of wine as I pulled a bunch of vegetables to stir-fry out of the refrigerator. I looked through the cabinets for a pan and couldn't find one because the fucking housekeeper had our cooking shit scattered all over the place. I was so highstrung and tense that as soon as the littlest thing went wrong, I'd start to freak out like it was the end of the world. So when I couldn't find the pan, I started slamming cabinet doors and throwing shit around, like a little baby crying for attention, hoping Mommy would come and solve all his problems. So Mommy – Pamela – came over, saw that I was in one of those moods and just threw up her hands. "Calm down, it's just a pan."
But it wasn't just a pan. It meant everything to me. My whole fucking peace of mind and sanity depended on me finding that pan. And by not caring whether I found the pan or not, Pamela, in my mind, was disrespecting my feelings. In my fucked-up, selfish way of thinking, it meant that Pamela didn't understand me – the worst sin someone can commit in a relationship. I grabbed all the pots and mixing bowls I had pulled out, fucking threw them in the big open drawer I had taken them from, and screamed, "This is bullshit!"
And then Pamela said the words that you should never say to anyone who's losing their temper, the words that only pour gasoline on the blaze: "Calm down. You're scaring me."
I should have walked outside and just vented at the stars or gone for a long jog or taken a cold shower. But I didn't. I was too wrapped up in the moment, in my anger at the missing pan, which was really my anger at the miscommunication between Pamela and me, which all boiled down to nothing but my own insecurity, neediness and fear.
"Fuck you! Fuck off! Leave me the fuck alone!" I yelled at her, kicking the drawer and hurting my fucking foot like an idiot because I had forgotten I was wearing soft slippers.
That was it. We were off and running. She screamed at me, I screamed back at her, and, pretty soon, the kids started screaming. Dylan was crying in his crib, and I could hear Brandon in his bedroom, bawling. "Mommy! Daddy! What's going on? Whaaaah!"
"I've had enough," Pamela said as she ran to the crib and scooped up Dylan. She brought him into the living room, grabbed the phone and started to dial.
"Who do you think you are calling?"
"I want my mom to come over. You're scaring me."
"Don't call your mom. Put the fucking phone down. We can deal with this ourselves."
"No, don't try to stop me. And don't swear in front of the kids. I'm calling them."
"Your parents are here all the fucking time. This is so stupid. We can talk about this and be over it in one minute. Look at me: I'm calm now. I'm not mad anymore."
"I'm calling Mom. And stop swearing."
She dialed the numbers, and I hung up the phone. Then she turned and fixed me with that dirty look, the one that told me that I was mean and selfish, the one that reduced me to the ugliest, scrawniest worm on the face of the fucking planet. I fucking hated that look, because it meant that the situation was escalating out of my control and no amount of apologies or flowers would ever convince her that I was a good guy who loved her again. Her therapist had given her the stupid advice of ignoring me when I was angry, because, according to him, I received enough attention as a rock star. But what he didn't know was that I was a rock star because I needed the attention. Silence equals death. So when Pamela started giving me the silent treatment - just like my parents used to - it only drove me further over the brink.
She defiantly grabbed the phone again and dialed her parents. I slammed down the hang-up bar. "I said, 'Don't fucking call her!' Come on. I'm sorry. This is so fucking petty."
She threw the phone against the handset, clenched her fist and swung at me blindly, connecting half her fist with my lower jaw and the other half with the tender of my neck, which fucking hurt. I had never been hit by a woman before, and as soon as I felt the contact, I saw red. I had been trying so hard to defuse the situation, but when she kept getting madder at every turn, it only incensed me more. The more willing I was to calm down, the madder I became when she wouldn't let me. So as soon as she slugged me, my emotional meter flew into the red and clouded my eyes. Like an animal, I did the first thing that instinctually came to mind to stop the situation: I grabbed her and held her firmly. "What is fucking wrong with you?" I yelled, not letting her go. And once again, my attempt to calm her only panicked her more. Now she was crying, the kids were freaking out, and the phone was ringing off the hook because her parents were worried because of all the cut-off phone calls. My stir-fry had turned into a nightmare.
As I held her, the silent treatment ended. She yelled every shitty thing she could think of at me, called me every dirty fucking name in the book, stabbed at every one of my weak points. I never could have imagined when we stared at each other all night at Señor Frog's that it would end up like this, with us crying and screaming at each other like demons. I released her, and she began to run toward Brandon's bedroom, as if she was the loving mother who needed to protect her brood from their cruel father. As she ran past, I swung my foot after her and helped her on her way with a swift, slippered boot to her ass. "You are a fucking bitch!"
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.
"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.
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
MUSIC 9 Classic Devo Videos
OLYMPICS 18 Epic Opening Ceremonies
Picks From Around the Web
blog comments powered by Disqus