All breaking news is on Twitter first, and AP announced it right away. I think Whitney was pronounced dead at 3:55 and we knew by 5. Having Brock in my house and lighting candles because because he deemed it "appropriate under the circumstances" was sadly amusing. Brock's reaction to a diva's passing is wonderfully diva-esque. "I need you to download her entire oeuvre."
Brock texted Melissa, "Whitney Houston just died. But tonight is all about you."
We put on every Whitney song ever, made a sign for the guests arriving at the front door and went about our party.
During dinner, Brock jokingly took a moment and asked everyone to share a personal memory of how Whitney Houston impacted their life. "Max, let's start with you."
Max looked at Brock like he was nuts, so Melissa began. When she was in 4th Grade, she auditioned for her school's talent show (Georgia's Got Talent, apparently) with a Whitney song. And then in high school, she really wanted to get into this traveling singing group, so she auditioned again with Whitney. Both times she got in. Naturally.
In the background of all of this, of course, is Whitney. All of a sudden, the dance remix of "Your Love Is My Love" came on and I realized it.
"Oh, you guys." I said. "I actually have a way Whitney impacted my life."
I was going to college in Philadelphia and spending the weekend at my friend Amy's parents' house on the outskirts of Allentown, PA. I had just turned 21 and Amy was my badass friend, who have pink streaks in her hair and tattoos. I, on the other hand, wore lots of Old Navy. Her friends in Allentown were older and homosexual and they invited us to join them at a gay bar.
I had never been to a gay bar before, and thus, while hailing from San Francisco, my first gay bar experience was in Allentown. It was a slightly dumpier yet bigger version of Badlands, if you will, with lots of flashing lights and a huge, packed dance floor in the middle.
Amy had long since disappeared somewhere, so I stood on the fringes for a while, talking to the other loser in our group, an gay man in his 40's who just didn't want to be there. I had no idea if I wanted to be there or not. I just didn't really know what to do.
After a couple of drinks, someone sassy in a tank top came over and screamed, "Girl, let's get you out there!"
I think I was wearing a brown barn coat and tapered jeans. I just didn't know what I was doing at all. But all of that was about to change.
At gay bars, as I'm sure you know, everyone just dances. You don't really dance with anyone in particular, you dance with everyone. And at this gay bar, they had placed mirrors along the wall at the ceiling, which were tilted towards the dance floor. So there I stood in the middle of the dance floor at a gay bar in Allentown, Pennsylvania. And I started to dance, surrounded by enthusiastic dancers who would occasionally grind up against me. It began to get fun, and I started dancing. Like, really dancing. I was in Allentown, for chrissakes. Fuck it.
As White Houston's dance version of "Your Love Is My Love" was blaring, lights were flashing everywhere, beams of color shot out over the crowd and I looked up.
I could see myself in the mirrors at the top of the wall. It looked like a fucking video. I was beaming at myself in a sea of hundreds of gay men, my arms were in the air, my hair was flying and I could see the whole scene from above.
That was my introduction of a homosexual watering hole. And I pretty much never looked back.
Up next at our birthday party/wake, Wilson started playing us scenes from Whitney's reality show, and the time she told Diane Sawyer that she's too rich to do crack because "Crack is whack."
Which obviously, under the circumstances, it is.
Tonight's Grammy Awards just got way more interesting. Every single red carpet interview must mention her, and every acceptance speech obviously will. Will people still wear gowns, or will it be like the post-9/11 Emmys when everyone wore business suits? I have no idea, but I'll be tuning into CBS at 8pm.