Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Whitney Houston Story

At the age of 16, I traveled with the family to visit some relatives in New Jersey.  (Yes, I have relatives in New Jersey.  I don't like to talk about it, but...)  My mom's cousin made himself out to be some big time New York City lawyer, only he worked in Newark and pronounced Joe Piscopo as Pis-COP-o.

But he did live down the street from Whitney Houston.  This was 1989, I think, so she hadn't yet become a train wreck but she did have a birthday party coming up and had sent out posters of herself as invitations.  My cousin had one.  I saw it.  Nothing egocentric about it.

Anyway, my cousin was having a pre-party party but was out of ice.  You'd think a big time Newark lawyer could afford an ice maker but he sent me next door with a bucket.  However, as I headed through the woods, I couldn't help but think of a better place to borrow ice.  So I headed up the road to Whitney's house.

This was a pretty hilly and woodsy neighborhood, with winding streets and stately homes barely visible through the trees.  It was the kind of place people respect privacy and where you would never expect to find gawkers or paparazzi or anything else to make you feel unsafe.  And in the middle of it all was a walled compound with a front gate, beyond which one could make out no evidence of a house on the property.

I rang the buzzer.

"Yeah?" came a burly voice.

"I need to borrow some ice," I said.


"I'd like to borrow some ice.  For Frank's party."  Silence.  "I'm Frank's cousin.  He's having a party and we're out of ice.  Do you have any we can borrow?"

More silence.  Then, "Hang on a minute."

Hope sprang forth.  Could it be?  Was it actually possible that I would be graced with glace a la Houston?  Might I slurp that magical, frozen beverage and be blessed with those same heavenly gifts as Whitney herself?  Why, she was probably bringing it to me herself, in hand blown crystal.  No doubt, she'd be so taken with my cool confidence, she would invite me inside.  We would become best friends and she would dedicate her next album to me.

Instead,  a dark-skinned brother standing 6 foot a hundred and weighing well over 250, bulging out of a too-tight Whitney T-shirt came waddling up to the gate.

"What you want again?" he asked.


He nodded and trudged back toward the house.  A few minutes later the buzzer buzzed.

"We don't have any," he said.

And that was that.  Whitney Houston did not always love me.


Steven J. Wangsness said...

I like it! Great story.

Jeanne said...

You are the first person that I ever met who almost borrowed ice from Whitney Houston. That is a real connection! It does show your bold side, however. Interesting story.