Tony Danza Almost Shot Me

Have you ever wondered how you would react in the face of extreme danger? Whenever that thought crossed my mind I would give a little chuckle and dismiss it outright, confident I would perform admirably in any sort of life-or-death situation. I figured the ol’ endorphins would kick in and I’d act in a manner that was brave, strong, and determined. I’d be the guy to dash into a burning building and rescue a baby, or lift a car off somebody trapped beneath it. I would not only laugh in the face of danger, I would scoff at it, call it names, and have my way with it.

Boy, was I wrong.

One day last week, I was sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee before work. The house was quiet: the kids were with their mother, and Tara was in Ely finishing up some business with her new renters. Suddenly, there was a commotion at the front door, and by commotion I mean somebody was trying to open the front door!

Several months ago, I read a blog post from Mikalee Byerman in which she recounted the tale of a marauding band of intruders who attempted to break into her house in broad daylight while she was inside. So I was keenly aware that these incidents do sometimes happen. My heart began stampeding in my chest, and just like that…

I sprang into inaction.

Seriously. I just sat there, my butt planted firmly on the dining room chair while trembling like a coward, apparently content to let whatever harm was coming befall me.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I thought of all the things I should be doing. Like grabbing a baseball bat or a knife or the cat (whose claws are plenty sharp) and greeting the intruder at the door. Or dialing 9-1-1. Or running out the back door to safety (which may not have been the bravest of acts, but at least it would have gotten me out of danger’s way). But did I do any of those things? Nope. I just sat there immobile, a proverbial deer in the headlights. At any second Tony Danza was going to come crashing through the door, insisting I say hello to his little friend before showering me with bullets.

Wait. That was Tony Montana. Tony Danza did Angela’s laundry on “Who’s The Boss.”

Hey, the vacuum cleaner COULD’VE been an assault rifle, and he might’ve been coming to kill me!

Well, whatever. I still figured I was as good as gone. I braced myself as the door swung open, my spoonful of Rice Krispies still raised in the air halfway between the cereal bowl and my mouth (and dammit, they had lost their snap, crackle and pop by now).

“Goodbye, cruel world,” I muttered.

The door swung open, and in walked…a teenager. With a backpack slung over his shoulder. Not just any old teenager, either. One I knew very well.

“Hi,” Rusty said.

“Wh…wh…umm, hello,” I said, quickly regaining my composure. “What are you doing here? And by the way, thanks for not killing me.”


“Nothing. You just gave your dad quite the fright. I wasn’t expecting to see you here.”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry about that. The hot water at mom’s house isn’t working. I need to take a shower before school.”


I felt pretty foolish at that point. And truth be told, extremely disappointed in myself. Sure, this was just a smelly kid looking for a bar of soap instead of an armed robber with murder on his mind, but I didn’t know that at the time. I can’t believe that, in the face of danger, I became paralyzed. When it comes to fight or flight, I’m neither. I’m fright. Oh, the shame of it all. This is just further evidence that if I were Batman, Gotham would burn to the ground.

And yet, at the first sign of an ant, I’m bolting across the room to get away from it. Go figure. I’m going to have to work on my reaction skills, I suppose.

Have you ever been in a dangerous situation? How did you react?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

17 thoughts on “Tony Danza Almost Shot Me

  1. Now you know where the term “Scared stiff” came from.

    No real dangerous situations…weird noises in the still of the night freak me out a bit but that’s about it.

    I’m just so happy Sidney was there! I’m happier that you didn’t have to throw her and end up scarring someone’s face for the rest of their natural life.

    Rusty really has no clue as to how lucky he really is…huh?


  2. Hilarious, Mark–as usual. Gotta meet you and Tara one of these days. When someone broke into my house, I screamed like a crazy person. Wait. I am a crazy person. Hmmmmmmmm. Maybe we can omit the “like.”


  3. Mark, it’s so ironic you posted this because last week, one of my readers posted something that happened to him that was very similar. Except in his case…it was someone trying to break in!!! And let’s just say…he reacted with a GUN!

    The only dangerous situation I was ever in was when I first moved to NYC (1974), and was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and was being followed by two guys who, I think, were planning on mugging me because I could feel their ‘vibes.’ Luckily, just as they were getting ready to POUNCE on me, a large group of people were walking towards me from the other side of the bridge, so the muggers scrammed – Whew!


  4. LOL. “If I were Batman, Gotham would burn to the ground.”

    You weren’t completely defenseless…you did have a spoon. Can’t you Macguyver your way out of a situation?


  5. I was just reading through some of my old entries, right after the divorce and being in the house by myself. One night B.B. started barking around 1am. Scared the shit outta me! I thought for sure someone was trying to break into the house. Turns out, it was just a dog sniffing around in the backyard. I kept my pistol loaded and next to the bed after that…and slept much better!


  6. LOL Dont feel too bad we all react differently. I could probably use a little more “fright” to me as I am all “fight”. When I was a kid and my Dad and I were both in Tae Kwon Do classes together, he would lurk around corners and jump out at me to test my reactions…imagine his surprise when the dojo mojo kicked in one day and I knifehanded him right in the throat. Also, the first night Zac lived here and came home from his overnight shift at work and tried to crawl into bed, I sprang into action and darn near took the poor guy out…good thing for him I had removed the golf club from the side of my bed. I’m willing to bet it’s probably a good thing I don’t own a gun 🙂 You could always have Tara start lurking around corners for you :-P, it’s bound to be entertaining for one of you!


  7. I found out I am not a screamer during a bad situation – I swore like a sailor as I fought off my attacker!!! People in another office 30 feet away & I couldn’t make a sound loud enough to attract their attention. Lucky for me, someone else entered the building & scared away my attacker or things could have gone so much worse!


      1. I will eventually. I tried to write about it for K8did’s 7 Deadly Sins series, but it upset me so much I had to actually back away from writing for awhile. But now I know how big an effect it will have on me, I can write about it slightly removed.


  8. I’ve been catching up on my blog reading as I begin to recover from the worst cold ever. I know this is an older post, but I had to let you know it made my day. You might or might not know I have a freeway driving phobia. A few years ago, I was taking my daughter up to Duluth, to see the migrating raptors. I’d never actually been to Duluth, but I figured I’d be okay because, after all, it was ‘up north’ and it’s all country-style roads up there, right? So I crest this big ol’ hill and suddenly can see Duluth proper. I realize my country road has just morphed into a multi-laned, horribly snarled spaghetti junction. I’m careening down a steep slope, traffic is merging in on me from all sides and I have to figure out which lane to plunge into at 60+ mph. My solution? Hit the breaks. Yep. Right there in the middle of rush hour. I came to an abrupt, complete stop on a freeway. I should have died.

    Apparently, I’m not good at split-second decisions.


    1. Yikes! Glad you were okay. And funny…I’ve actually been to Duluth. It was late June and 44 degrees. Overcast and drizzly. Downright frigid, almost. Needless to say I was not impressed!


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