I do not usually get into discussions on the lives of the famous--be it wedding, divorce, death, birth, who lost how many pounds, who looks better in what and the list goes on....
I don't much care.
However. I must spend today's blog on Whitney Houston, who-as you know-has died. I remember standing on the arm of our living room couch--a black velour, aging piece of furniture--looking at myself in the mirror over the fireplace, singing The Greatest Love of All and really really feeling it. I wanted to be shown all the beauty I possessed inside! When, in class, we were asked our role model, from 1985-1990, I said proudly "Whitney Houston". When Tad and I got together, he put I Wanna Dance with Somebody on one of my mix CDs and I was again sure that he was the right person for me.
So, in honor of Whitney, I will tell you a funny story about me, as a youth and Whitney (sort of).
When I was in 7th grade, in our speech class, we had to do a graded lip sync performance. The boy I liked at the time, Ryan, did Whitesnake's Here I go Again on my Own complete with a guitar prop and dance moves. I Think We're Alone Now by Tiffany, Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer, and of course Walk Like an Egyptian were all performed by my various classmates. But I chose Whitney Houston's Greatest Love of All. While my classmates did dance routines, dressed like their chosen performer, or had props to look like the song's original video as they'd perhaps seen late in the evening on NBC's Friday Night Videos, I (always longing to be different from everyone else) did something else entirely. I sat on a stool in front of my class with a stuffed-animal monkey puppet (my favorite animal and the only puppet I could find). My puppet had Easter grass on its head for hair (I had a perm) and we both had matching large-beaded, neon-colored necklaces, and a microphone in hand. And we traded versus of Whitey's hit song. I started it out "I believe that children are our future..." And my puppet took over at "I decided long ago never to walk in any one's shadow..." And when the chorus started "Because the greatest love of all is happening to me...", me and my puppet sang with great passion; I turned its head so we were looking each other in the eye while we sang.
I know when I planned out my lip sync (I got an A, by the way) I thought it was a brilliantly funny and strange thing to do--funny and strange were my favorite ways to be--but now, as an adult, I can't believe what a weirdo I was. And how brave I was too, I suppose. I'm glad, even though I withstood a lot of bullying and meanness because of my strangeness, that I still wanted to be who I was. And I'm glad I've grown into an adult who has embraced her weirdness.
And Whitney, thanks. The way you sang the words "Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier. Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be" still resonate with me today. Learning to love yourself IS the greatest love of all.