Whitney Houston

I was 13 in 1985, when Whitney Houston’s self-titled debut album arrived at my house as a Chanukah gift.

I knew only a little about Houston, whose song, “You Give Good Love,” was starting to get a lot of play on the radio and MTV. Like, for example, I knew that she sang like the most beautiful of birds. And I knew that her voice was unlike any I had ever heard. And I knew that the photograph of her on the record’s back—the one pictured above; the one I gazed longingly toward as I played her record over and over—made me want to marry her.

Literally, I would try and figure out how I could possibly marry Whitney Houston. No, she wouldn’t have interest in a zit-faced, gangly 13-year-old. But one day I’d be 20, and she’d be 29. One day I’d be 29 and she’d be 38. One day … hey, it could work.

Of course, I never married Whitney Houston. Instead, I grew older and began to watch, in utmost horror, as she morphed from this angelic figurine into … what? Crazed. Hostile. Bitter. Bizarre. Drug-addicted. I always hated observing Whitney Houston’s decline, because she had once symbolized something so pure and lovely in my life. As a boy, I grew up in a very white, very predictable world. We were supposed to see beauty in a certain generic shape: White skin, blonde hair, blue eyes. The cliche. But Whitney Houston was, again, beyond beautiful.

To see that all crumble … heartbreaking.

I’ve been reading the Tweets about Whitney Houston’s passing, and many disgust me. There is no humor in the immediacy of death; no funny punchlines to be had. A person’s life has ended; her existence extinguished. It is a tragedy. Whether one sings or calculates or collects garbage, the end is a tragedy.

RIP.

3 thoughts on “Whitney Houston”

  1. Yes,I was about 15 when that album came out and your thoughts mirror mine more or less precisely. She really was, I thought, from another place – so different from everyone else at that time: fresh, inspiring, pure, beautiful. I think I disconnected that Whitney with the later Whitney. For me, they weren’t the same person. So sad to say that they were. RIP.

  2. There’s one thing that just hasn’t been touched upon nearly enough over the last 24 hours. A mother has lost her daughter, and a daughter has lost her mother.

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