Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me

Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me

3.9 88
by Howie Mandel, Josh Young

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An engaging no-holds-barred memoir that reveals Howie Mandel’s ongoing struggle with OCD and ADHD—and how it has shaped his life 
Howie Mandel is one of the most recognizable names in entertainment. But there are aspects of his personal and professional life he’s never talked about…  See more details below



An engaging no-holds-barred memoir that reveals Howie Mandel’s ongoing struggle with OCD and ADHD—and how it has shaped his life 
Howie Mandel is one of the most recognizable names in entertainment. But there are aspects of his personal and professional life he’s never talked about publicly—until now. Twelve years ago, Mandel first told the world about his “germophobia.” He’s recently started discussing his adult ADHD as well. Now, for the first time, he reveals the details of his struggle with these challenging disorders. He speaks candidly about the ways his condition has affected his personal life—as a son, husband, and father of three. Along the way, the versatile performer reveals “the deal” behind his remarkable rise through the show-business ranks, sharing never-before-told anecdotes about his career.
As heartfelt as it is hilarious, Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me is the story of one man’s effort to draw comic inspiration out of his darkest, most vulnerable places.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this reflective autobiography, written with verve and passion, actor, comedian and game show host Mandel alternates between funny anecdotes and stories of intense personal problems, opening with a description of his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and the situations in his Toronto childhood that shaped his comedy career. Despite little experience, Mandel left Canada for Los Angeles to pursue stand-up comedy, where he eventually moved from the clubs to cable specials, an album, and numerous late-night talk show appearances, success he'd parlay into film roles and a 6-year stint on NBC hospital dramedy St. Elsewhere. Mandel soon developed what he calls "Obsessive Prankster Disorder," a need to stage elaborate practical jokes, some quite amusing. Not all is fun and games, however; Mandel also describes how mental disorders and medical crises have impacted his career, and balances his triumphs with lengthy surveys of failed performances. Mandel's fans will love this book for its intimate revelations, taking readers deep inside the head of the manic star.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
“A frank and funny memoir.”
—New York Post

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Random House Publishing Group
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Chapter One

Welcome to Me

November 29, 1955. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Mount Sinai Hospital. Howard Michael Mandel was born to Albert and Evelyn Mandel. I have absolutely no recollection of my infancy, but I'm told I was the happiest, most idyllic child, not to mention the cleanest child known to man.

As excited as my mother must have been about having me, she tells me that she felt like a child herself. She was just twenty-three, and my father was twenty-nine. She was really nervous about her baby boy and wanted to protect him from the evils of the world at that time-the Commies, nuclear proliferation, and, most important, the invasion of germs.

Whenever somebody came over to see her baby, God forbid they should touch little Howard's teeny fingers. As soon as they left, she would take me into the bathroom and scrub my hands with soap and water. If somebody sniffled and touched my crib, my mother would mark the spot in her mind. She would remember that it was two inches to the left of the headboard, and again, as soon as that person left the room, she would hit that spot with the Lysol, putting me back in my sterile environment.

You might think this was over the top, but the apple didn't fall far from the tree. The first and all recollections I have of visiting my grandparents on my mother's side were of approaching the house and seeing my "bubbie" outside the front door on her hands and knees, waxing the concrete veranda. Waxing. Concrete. Outside. There was no way she was going to allow anyone to track filth into her home. She believed that this was the first line of defense toward maintaining a safe environment-that is, if you ignored the fact that it was very easy to slip and break your neck before you rang the doorbell. Let's weigh the odds here: no dirt on your feet, or a broken neck. She seemed to lean in favor of no dirt on the feet.

Once you were inside, not much changed. As in many homes in the Northeast and Midwest, inside the door there was a tray where you could remove your boots so you didn't track mud and snow into the house. I know there was a boot tray, but my grandmother's was covered in newspaper, because God forbid the boots should touch the tray. In fact, I don't think I ever touched any of the furniture or carpets in her house because it was all covered with plastic. Everything was hermetically sealed in its place.

So when I now see a picture of me as an infant, posed on a chair in my living room and separated from that chair by a sheet of plastic, it seems to make some sense.

I started my life with the cleanest of slates, so to speak. Everything went swimmingly well for Howard for those first two and a half years in what was metaphorically a perfectly chlorinated pool. But then comes my first memory of infancy. I may not be accurately depicting the facts, but I promise you I'm accurately depicting my memory.

In the last week of October 1957, my mother disappeared. My dad went off to work during the day, driving a cab, and a strange woman showed up at the house to take care of me.

I think her name was Mrs. Weatherburn. I can't remember her name as accurately as I can remember the fact that she wore dentures. I didn't know what dentures were at the time, which made things worse. In addition to being terrorized by the fact that my mother was gone, I had to deal with an old woman who would go into our bathroom in the morning, put her fingers in her mouth, rip out all her teeth in one piece, brush them in front of me, and then put them back into her face.

I felt as if I were living in a horror movie. You have no idea how scared I was. Every day after my father went to work, I was left alone with a lady who ripped out her teeth. All I wanted was my mommy. But Mommy had gone away. I felt like a small, human Jewish Bambi. In the span of seven days, I went from gleefully happy to utterly miserable.

At the end of the week, my dad informed me that we were going to pick up "the baby." I remember this as clearly as yesterday. I can tell you honestly I had no idea what "the baby" meant. He seemed excited about "the baby." He could have said we were picking up a lemur. It would have meant the same thing to me.

I want to clarify what "the baby" was. In the fifties, when women were pregnant and ready to give birth, they checked into the hospital for a week. At that time, children were not welcome as visitors in the maternity ward, which is why I didn't see my mother for a week. All this makes sense to me now, but it didn't then.

We drove to Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto. I hadn't been there in almost three years, and I didn't recognize the place. It was a cold, gray, drizzly day. We parked in the back of the building, and my dad disappeared inside to get "the baby."

I was sitting quietly in the car with Mrs. Weatherburn, waiting. I remember not saying anything for fear that she might talk to me and bare her teeth. I was afraid that those teeth might jump out at me at any moment. After what seemed like an eternity, my mother emerged through the hospital's big metal door.

I remember watching my mom, who was my whole life, coming out to the car. I was so excited to see her again. She was carrying something wrapped in blankets. This must be "the baby." My dad helped her into the backseat. Mommy leaned over, said, "I love you," and gave me a kiss.

As she leaned over, I looked inside all those blankets she was carrying and I could see a little face. There was another person with my mommy. Who was this? Was it "the baby"?

From that moment on, my life was different. My mom tells me that my whole demeanor changed. My sense of contentment was replaced with agitation.

Stevie-that's what they called "the baby"-needed very little attention. He had a couple of meals a day, a diaper change once in a while, and the rest of the time he slept. If you do the math, it worked out to about 5 percent of my mom's

attention. I received the other 95 percent. It wasn't even fifty- fifty between the two brothers, but I was completely distraught. Up until then, it had been me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me. Now it was me, me, me, me, him, me, me, me. Can you understand how devastating this was for me?

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.

I don't want you to think I wasn't innovative. Here were the remedies to keep the other kids from realizing that Howard had just pissed himself: Through a varying array of excuses, I would dismiss myself quietly before anybody noticed the wet spot covering the front of my pants, find my way to a puddle or a ditch, and submerge myself. There were no puddles or ditches right out the front door, so I had to travel a far distance to trip and fall into a puddle. But this allowed me to hold my head up high and declare proudly to my classmates, "I've fallen into yet another puddle!" Throughout my early school years, I was known as the kid who would fall into a puddle or ditch six or seven times a year. In retrospect, this seems equally as embarrassing.

My kindergarten teachers were named Ms. Smith and Ms. Judge, and I was called by my full name, Howard. I'm Howie now because Howard makes me cringe. Howard comes mostly with the connotation of anger. There was never any good news after Howard. Nobody ever said, "Howard, we have something great for you." It was always a demand or a reprimand.

All I remember doing in kindergarten was arts and crafts. Once we were doing a landscape, and three days in a row I apparently painted the sky purple. The teachers thought I was trying to be funny or combative, so they made me stand behind the piano. This was my first sense of what it felt like to be an outcast. All of the other kids were having fun painting skies, and I was placed behind the piano.

One day, my mom visited me at school and found me behind the piano. When it was explained to her what I had done, she asked me to show her the blue crayon. I picked up the purple crayon. She consulted with our family doctor about why I would do that. He eventually figured out that I was color-blind. Oh, good, let's add that to my list of attributes.

So I remember my kindergarten years as everybody playing while I stood behind the piano, not knowing why I was different from the other kids.

By first grade, I had other issues. Everyone including me knew how to tie their shoelaces. But when the other kids' laces came untied, they would retie them. When my laces touched the filthy ground, I could not bring myself to touch them. My grandmother had not waxed the schoolyard. The horror of touching those laces far outweighed the embarrassment of spending the rest of the school day and my trek home walking like Quasimodo, dragging my foot so that I wouldn't lose my shoe. It's amazing that nobody ever mentioned how strangely I walked.

To this day, my mother recounts a miserable child walking home from school. She could see me from our porch two blocks away, dragging one leg with the untied shoelace behind me.

My young brother, Stevie, had a sense of the things that horrified me. Like most brothers, we got into many scuffles. I'm not saying we didn't punch and hit and cause personal injury. But if I was chasing him, his last bastion of defense was running to the laundry hamper, removing the lid, and waving it in my direction. Just the sight of that lid was like my kryptonite. The tables would turn, and now he was chasing me. I would scream as if someone were after me with a knife. The lid of the laundry hamper doesn't sound toxic, and I don't know what I thought would happen if it touched me, but I was horrified and the fight would come to an end. Everyone including me just accepted this as the norm.

Looking back, I see that I was accumulating many letters-ADHD and OCD. It would take decades to solve this puzzle. I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat.

I remember agitation being the pervasive emotion of my childhood. I believe this is a rough start for any child. I was a color-blind outcast with ear infections who had a maniacal need to be the center of attention, sometimes walked like Quasimodo, randomly fell into puddles, and had a crazy fear of hamper lids. With all these gifts, I was off to make my way in the world.

As tough as this sounds, I lived a wonderful childhood. One of the biggest highlights was our family's yearly trip to Miami Beach during winter break. Remember I'm a Jew, so this was my Christmas. The night before the trip was like Christmas Eve. I had always heard about how all the non-Jewish kids couldn't wait to wake up on Christmas and open their presents. They would stay up late with anticipation and then get up before the sun rose on Christmas morning and sit under the tree with the presents until their parents woke up.

My parents would put my brother and me to bed early because we were leaving at four a.m. Steve and I had rooms across the hall from each other, and we would sleep with our doors open and try to stay awake all night. We could hear our parents in the living room watching Johnny Carson and smell the pizza they had ordered.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Here's the Deal 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Cisley More than 1 year ago
I have to say, when I decided to get this book I had no idea it would be so funny. After "coming out" with his germaphob problem on the Howard Stern Radio show he thought everyone would think he was a freak, when in fact, he found out there were many others who had his same problem. I honestly thought this book would be all about his problems but no, there is more, much more. I was laughing so hard I was crying and had to read some of his pranks out loud to my husband. You have no idea unless you read this book. If Howie Mandel ever decides to quit show business as he once contemplated, then I think he should take up writing. I assume he has a million more stories to tell. One of my recommendations, "8 State Hurricane Kate" does not come with photo.
MEG914 More than 1 year ago
Had always thought Howie Mandel was a bit of a goofball, and then when Deal or No Deal came on, my opinion changed. He was genuinely funny. Oddly enough, even then I hadn't realized his OCD and fear of shaking hands. Picked up this book just as a filler read in the car waiting for teen kids after school and found myself taking it in for evening reading just to get to the next chapter because it was so interesting. I would have loved to have my kids read it, but there were some chapters that were not appropriate for their age. This was one of those books that was such an easy read because you could hear Howie telling the story, you could see his facial expressions, and you could feel what he was feeling. I am glad that Howie is learning that there are some things in life that you just can't do to others because it can hurt them terribly, as he found out with one of his closest friends. Loved the book...wish there was more! Do it again Howie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love Howie, you will find this book totally revealing, touching and honest. I couldn't stop reading it. It's written as though Howie is telling his funny, sometimes a bit tragic, life story while you are sitting in his living room. This book reveals the side of Howie that I never imagined existed. Easy, comfortable reading style.
dlmpt More than 1 year ago
This was a great book! I actually met him in person at the Barnes and Noble book signing. Mr. Mandel was so friendly and down to earth. Took time to answer some questions regarding some content in his book. He was open and honest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just love that look on his face when someone attempts to shake his hand! ;=)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hate reading but I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was going to be a normal boring book. I also thought that Howie Mandel wasn't anything like he says he is in the book. When he said he had OCD, ADHD, heart problems, germophobic and was a color blind carpet sales man. I was in shock. Especially after I read the intro on how he wouldn't leave the Howard Stern Radio Show because he thought people would think he was a freak because of the manipulator. I had no clue at all about any of this but after reading this book I had a whole different view on Howie Mandel. I never knew he was a comedian all I knew is that he is on Deal Or No Deal and America's Got Talent. I thought it was going to be all about what he does in boring everyday life but it's a total different story. He is hilarious and all the pranks he has done too classmates, family members, kids, wife, and friends. This book is funny, sad, interesting, and weird all at the same time but I know a lot of people will like it when they read it. So I hope u will read this book and I hope he comes out with his new book soon about more of his life and the struggles he goes through.
TaraVMurphy More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book, though I see a lot of myself in Howie having to do with my own germophobia. It was scary to read, though nice to know I'm not alone and a guy with OCD can make it big in this world. One thing I didn't understand is in the intro how he couldn't leave Howard Stern's studio....why didn't he just grab a napkin? That's how I get around my office. Napkins to grab doorknobs and door handles. Works like a charm.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Loved the stories. Funny. Understand the OCD, anxiety and phobias. Big Bobbys World fan.
KER40 More than 1 year ago
I have seen Howie Mandel numerous times on TV and in person, but never knew the person I was watching was so complicated with numerous issues. I enjoyed learning more about him and could here his voice when reading the book. It was touching, funny, sad, and interesting to read about such a talented man's life experiences that led him to who he is today.
grammapickle More than 1 year ago
The book was one of the best I've read,funny yet heartwarming at the same time. I can relate to it because my daughter has a milder case of AADD and its hard for her also.She has a very patient husband,he's great with her as Howies wife is with him.The book held my attention from the first sentence to the last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I randomly picked this book up at the library, thinking to myself if I do not get to read it, no problem. I started the book and was not able to put it down. I had no preconceived ideas so I was very open to his story. I absolutely loved his honesty, humor and story telling. The book flowed easily transitioning him from birth to present day (a few years ago). There was depth that was not expected, love that was sincere and humility that was frequently conveyed. I have recommended this book to others.
Rollinjen More than 1 year ago
I feel bad for that dude! He's such a goof-ball. Very good insight to his life. I would have never known. I laughed a lot, especially the story about his daughter needing to use the bathroom, she just had to go, and he was driving when she told him... I won't spoil it, but it was LOL. Awesome and funny!
VikVC More than 1 year ago
I would always feel he should talk about it instead of hiding it. I have more respect for him, and want nim to know he is not alone!
Pfinn2 More than 1 year ago
An interesting and brutally honest portrayal of Mr. Mandel's life. I read it in two days and had a hard time putting it down. Definitely worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very enjoyable read of Howie's life. But if you're looking for information about OCD, details about how he has managed it and what it is, look elsewhere. It's lacking in depth, but high in sincerity, humor, and fun.
SherMax More than 1 year ago
When I bought this book, I though it might be a bit frivolous, but it wasn't. Howie Mandel's life so far has been very interesting as proved by his numerous anecdotes. There was one particular chapter where he interrupted what he was about to say next with some very serious health news about himself. It was absolutely essential, from that point on, to keep reading to find out the end result (though, of course, we do know that he is still alive). I would like to see him write a sequel to further inform us as to how his OCD has affected his life. I felt he somewhat glossed over that aspect of his life.
caregiver4u2 More than 1 year ago
I feel this book would be informative and very helpful to those who share their lives with people with OCD or ADHD or any other letters that may follow. He was able to share the humor while also touching on the seriousness of cause and effect to him and those around him while dealing and adapting his life to his "capital letters". It was a quick read. Howie Thank you for sharing............
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i thought this book was well written, funny and so true for someone suffering from ocd
BMJ More than 1 year ago
I remember seeing Howie years ago when he was so hyper. Now the change is significant, but he is still entertaining. After reading his book, I was more able to understand why he was hyper. It was very imformative and interesting. I would recommend this book to my friends and relatives as a better way to get to know the real Howie Mandel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great laugh out loud book. I have a family member with OCD and ADHD this is a interesting book that shares the struggle and successes of some one who lives with OCD. Not a self help book. I think that Howie Mandel could receive better treatment for his OCD. I recommend this book to anyone that knows a person with OCD, but would suggest they also look into the OCD Foundation website for accurate information and help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read for anyone who has OCD, ADHD and a sense of humor. I never realized that Howie did such bizarre things.
MTR More than 1 year ago
This book intriged me from the start. As a child growing up I always wanted to be the center of attention. So I became a dancer,singer,actor.I also suffer with ocd that why I bought the book Good job Howie hope to meet you some day.A deep look inside this mans life a must read. Michael
Kristy74KK More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put the book down and I hate to read. I've always loved Howie Mandel and his stand up. I am only 31yrs old but I had to put him on my bucket list to see. I got to see his stand up November 12th in Illinois. He was great, as I always thought he would be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting! It really helped me understand the reasons for his behavior and his battle with the disease. His humor and his vulnerability were apparent throughout and made his writing very personable.