Thursday, April 18, 2013

The One Where Whitney Died

High-profile celebrities have a reputation for dying prematurely due to their assorted extracurricular activities.

·  Five years ago, Heath Ledger was found in his Manhattan apartment, dead from an accidental overdose of painkillers and sleeping pills.

· In 2009, Michael Jackson’s death crashed TMZ, Aol Instant Messenger, Twitter, and the Los Angeles Times.  It was one of those moments where you’ll always remember where you were when you heard the news. I was crossing the parking lot of the Mellow Mushroom when a guy yelled out that the king of pop was dead. I remember mentally calling him an asshole for making such a stupid, terrible joke...then I saw the news and had to believe it for myself.

·   Amy Winehouse stumbled around like a hot mess for several years before succumbing to her bad habits at the ripe-old age of 27.

·   February of this year marked the one year anniversary of Whitney Houston’s accidental drowning in her bathtub. Heart disease and cocaine had more than a lot to do with it.

Somehow, each of their deaths managed to be a shocking loss, no matter how much we expected them…

The One Where Whitney Died

whitney houston, celebrity deaths
The three of us were sitting around in the living room, still absorbing the fact that the legendary pop singer had died. We could hear mom on the phone in the other room. One of her friends had called to reminisce about the life of the singer that ended way before it should have.
“Wow,” my sister, Geri, said. “I can’t believe she’s dead.”
“I know. It’s so sad,” I agreed.
“It was that powder,” Nate added.
“Nathan!” I exclaimed.
“Aw come on! We all know she was on drugs. She was into that white stuff.”
I couldn’t help laughing. After a moment of hesitation, Geri joined in too.
“You guys should be as surprised about Whitney dying as you were when Winehouse kicked it.”
“Nate, now you’re being a jerk.”
“She was a junkie.” Nate insisted. He started listing names off on his fingers. “And so was Michael, Winehouse, Heath --”
My sis and I jumped in at the same time. “No! Heath was not a junkie!”
“He overdosed didn’t he?”
“He didn’t mean to.”
“It doesn’t matter. He was junkie.”
“No he wasn’t.”
“He hung out with junkies and took their pills. That’s the definition of a junkie.”
“He did not hang out with junkies!”
“Yes he was. He was buddies with those twins and took their pills.”
Eden tried to reason with him. “They were childhood friends.”
Leaning away from him so he could see my incredulous expression, I tried another approach. “Then by your definition, you’re a junkie.”
“When was the last time that you smoked weed?” I asked.
“That was like ten years ago.”
“With Marcus and Ritchie, right? You hung out with them even when they were starting to spiral out of control. That makes you a junkie.”
“We were smoking pot! Pot doesn’t count!”
“It’s a drug.”
“Weed comes from the ground. That makes it not a drug.”
“Mushrooms come from the ground too and look how that turns out!”
Nate blew out a frustrated breath. Geri and I had tagged teamed him. He was losing the argument and knew it. “How could you guys seriously know that he wasn’t on drugs?”
“He was a superstar. Celebrities can’t hide that stuff. The paparazzi are all over it, spreading their personal lives in the tabloids.”
“Okay.” Nate put his hand on his chin thoughtfully. It didn’t take him long to come up with his next thread of argument. “What about that Murphy girl?”
Geri and I laughed. “She was junkie!” we both exclaimed at once. “Everyone knew that was coming.”
“I was kind of surprised when Winehouse died,” I admitted.
Nate stuck his face two inches from mine. “She was on crack,” he enunciated. “That should not have surprised you.”
Geri tried to get the conversation back on track. “You’re a junkie, Nate.”
He shook his head emphatically. “I’ve never taken anyone else’s pills.”
            Geri looked at him. “Mom has taken my pain pills and so has Reggie.”
Nate shrugged his broad shoulders. “You guys aren’t going to change my mind. Michael, Heath, Winehouse, Whitney—they were junkies. And now they’re all dead.” Then he laughed. The jerk.

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