Letter #34: Melodramatic Songs of Youth

There is no way that I could pretend that I am a big Whitney Houston fan. I'm not. But I was a child a of the '80s and have strong memories of belting out "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" to the record in my parent's living room.

And then of course, I was middle school-aged when The Bodyguard took over America. I think I have such a skewed vision of this time in my life. I was a sixth-grade Catholic school girl and this seems to me one of the biggest things in pop culture at the time (the other? that spring when The Sandlot was released). Of course I wouldn't actually see the movie in the theater (it was rated R, wasn't it? And I was a Catholic school girl, afterall). But oh boy, did my friends and I obsess over the soundtrack.

Obviously plenty of adults loved the movie and soundtrack too. But as a now 30 year-old, I still think the songs were made for middle-school love. Over-the-top, melodramatic, powerhouse ballads. The type of love song that makes it known that without this love, no love exists at all.

And this song in particular, the one that pop culture history will always associate with Ms. Houston, will never not remind me of my sixth grade crush. Someone I haven't thought about in years but now I'm thinking about every day as we are bombarded with the reminders of Whitney's life and musical legacy. 

So Dear B,

You weren't the first boy I fell for. I liked another B back in the fifth grade. But you were the new guy at school and how could I not fall for your vulnerable self. You were tall, dark, handsome and a bit of a jerk. And I was so young that I didn't know the warning signs of jerkiness yet. And was just willing to love you as is. 

I wanted to double-skate with you in a time in our life when we got out of school early for all-school roller skating parties. I wanted my mood ring to always be blue when I was in your presence. I wanted you to like me without knowing that I still played with Barbies and slept with a blanket. I thought this type of love would go on forever, but I don't even think roller rinks exist anymore. 

I wish there was more to say to you. But after we left the halls of our small Catholic grade school, I stopped thinking about you. It wasn't hard to let go of a boy who snapped my bra straps infront of 30 other classmates and made fun of me and my family every chance he got. 

Neither of us were even aware, as we sat in the same classroom with desks that had surely been around since the 50s, that we were just beginning to figure out what types would be "our types." Believe it or not, you were my first and only jock crush. I never fell again for a guy who liked to play sports or went on to attend college on an athletic scholarship. But when we ran into each other, years later at an even for our same-aged brother and sister, you sought me out in the bleachers. You were the one who wouldn't leave me side and I got the feeling that you were just beginning to fall for the geeky girls in glasses, started to appreciate the curves a good bra can support, and might have begun to fall for my "type" of girl. 

Wherever you are now, B. I hope when you hear Whitney Houston, you think about the sixth grade too. Maybe you remember the girls who so blindly fell in love with you in the way that only a sixth grader can. And smile.

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