A lot of people have been reacting over the last couple of days to the death of Whitney Houston. She was, obviously, a superstar, and like any superstar, the news of her death generated a lot of strong opinion and emotion, both good and bad.
But when I heard the news, my first thought was of a more personal moment. I was fifteen years old, and one of a number of sophomores who were tapped to be waitstaff at the junior/senior prom. We scurried around refilling punch bowls and setting out trays of snack food in the lobby area of the gymnasium at the local junior-high school while the older students got their groove on. It was their party, after all. We were just the help.
Just before the last song, the adult chaperones turned us all loose and told us we were welcome to dance that one dance before it was time for everyone to go home. Various of the other kids who were dating filed off. I wasn’t dating anyone, and I was shy, so I was kinda not sure what precisely I should do.
And then Shannon, who was one of my best friends, walked over, cocked her head to the side that way she would, and held out her hand. And we went into the gym, and I held her close to me, and we danced.
The song was “The Greatest Love Of All”, by Whitney Houston. It was a huge radio hit at the time. And that is, hands down, one of my favourite memories of high school, ever.
Goodnight, Ms. Houston. Thanks for being the soundtrack to a perfect moment in time.