Here are some of the ways I handled it. I would walk into the room where they kept little Stevie and scream as loud as I could to make him cry. Then my mom would come in and yell at me for waking up "the baby." But remember, she was yelling at me, so I had all the attention. One time he stuck his hand through the bars of his crib, and I pulled on it as hard as I could. He had to go to the hospital because I ripped his arm out of the socket. That was horrible, but again, I got a lot of attention for that.
I don't know how this is possible, but throughout our childhood, my brother always had-and continues to have-an amazing love for me. Whenever my mom got upset with me, she'd threaten: "That's it! Wednesday is garbage day. I'm throwing you out with the garbage." My brother would break into tears and plead, "Please don't throw Howie in the garbage." He was so scared that I would be tossed out and he wouldn't have me around. My punishments seemed to punish him more.
I now believe that my brother, Steve, is the reason I have become a performer today. From the moment "the baby" appeared, I spent every waking moment trying to get all the attention. Regardless of whether that attention was positive or negative, it was attention just the same. I didn't make the connection at the time, but child experts say that a good part of your personality and who you are going to be is formed in the first years of your life. If that is true, then the sick need that I have to be accepted and appreciated by people I don't know stemmed from spending my entire childhood trying to get 100 percent of the attention. Obviously, you can't get all the attention, but I promise you I'm still trying.
At age four, I was about to meet some other people vying for attention. I was enrolled in school. In the grade of kindergarten at Dublin Public School, to be exact. Looking back, I realize I didn't have a lot going for me. I was allergic to dairy products; I was suffering from seeping eczema and constant ear infections; and I was a bed wetter. And, oh, I forgot, a maniacal attention seeker.
I say bed wetter because I wet the bed, but wetting myself extended far beyond the bed. When I analyze this now-not that I or anyone was diagnosed at the time-I believe this wetting could have been a direct result of having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD for short. I have been professionally diagnosed with this disorder as an adult. The characteristics of this are an inability to focus, impulsive behavior, and being easily distracted. I have come to realize these symptoms have plagued me throughout my life. I remember thinking as a child, I have to go to the potty, and then I would see something shiny or hear a voice, and I would be off on a tangent. Soon, I would realize that my pants were wet, and I hadn't made it to the potty.