“A reminder of how the yin and yang is infinitely present in everything.”
Two years ago I was seated in the front row of a boring journalism symposium, next to a man who appeared to be wearing “Hammer Pants.” I had a feeling I’d learn more from someone “Too legit to quit” than any of the blowhards at the mic. I was correct. He and I became instant friends after he leaned in and whispered, “Hi. Do you agree this sucks?” I agreed. He said, “Let’s stand up simultaneously, leave in a huff and rush off to any place with alcohol.”
On three: 1, 2, 3, we stood, huffed-it-up, exited and found booze.
By the way, he claimed his pants were cutting-edge Harem, not Hammer.
Since that day we have been good friends and although he’s not the kind to take credit, he is also one of my biggest motivators, pushing me to keep plugging even when things “suck.”
For over a decade, his niche has been as a go-to journalist for coverage of musicians. The past few months he was struggling financially, feeling as if he had been dropped off the job call list. Maybe because as a pro, his rate is higher than what younger, eager to get a byline writers will do for far less pay.
Immediately after Houston’s passing, his phone began ringing again. Oddly, under her dire circumstances, he’s back in the game and has unexpectedly wound up with a fulltime columnist position.
Last night he held a dinner party to celebrate his new job. Halfway through the meal, he called a toast, and once all of our glasses were raised, he said, “Whitney Houston’s talent gave me a soul mate and two children.”
His wife added, “And I have the stretch marks to prove it.”
We clinked our glasses in honor of Whitney and for the lives of our hosts.
The next morning I suggested he write about his behind-the-scenes connection with Whitney, but he declined because he felt it might come off as “morbid.” However, he did give me the go ahead to tell his story and allowed me to include a few words from him.
Here they are:
“Some deaths pass by without mourning. Which is a tragedy none of us hope will happen to us.
Some deaths bring tears to the masses: the loss of entertainers, great inventors, activists, politicians, and others in the spotlight.
For everyone who has died I hope there is someone out there who remembers the best of them. And in my line of work, profiting off of death does make me a little squeamish, but it helps keep my family fed and a roof over our heads. In the end, that is my top priority.
Rest in peace Whitney and although you never knew me, your career has given me tremendous gifts. The greatest of all was a much needed vacation, solely financed via articles I was hired to write about you. On that particular trip I met the love of my life. We got married and have two wonderful children.
And as regretful as I am we’ve lost any chance of hearing your voice again, it was with your help my life has become more fulfilling than I ever expected it to be.
Your mere existence has been one of the most meaningful contributions to my future.”
I don’t think my friend’s story is morbid. I feel it a great reminder of how the yin and yang is infinitely present in everything.
photo: Joseph Boyd