The year was 1985. The album? Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston.
I was pretty young in 1985, only about 7 years old. I was precocious and wildly unpopular. I remember public school as an exercise in frustration and anger management. I would speak out in class, so they would place me at the Spanish-speaking table. Thus, I learned to swear in Spanish. Well, I must admit that the swearing wasn’t my intent, but I really liked to chat, and I really believed that I was learning normal conversation.
I read a great deal at that point in my life, mainly because I needed to escape. I was living through the heart of my parents’ divorce, and something inside me truly believed that it was my fault. I acted out, and had a really nasty habit of kicking people in the shins. When it came to school, I was a conundrum, because they would send me to 6th grade reading and social studies classes, but I was in remedial math and failing my handwriting course. I was normally alone during recess and lunch, even though there were certain ‘friends’ from my street. They mostly made a spectacle of me, and I had horrible self-esteem. I was in gymnastics, which offered some comfort, but I always felt that I was following my brother’s greatness. He did everything better than I did.
But there is one story that sparks things off, that really meant something to me. There was a bully in the school. A bigger boy, probably in the 5th or 6th grade. I can’t remember if I had been asked to leave the class because I was too chatty or if I was heading to the portable classrooms of my upper-level classes, but I was out on the asphalt of the playground. It was quiet. And I had to walk past this great, big bully. And I can remember shaking in my tiny trainers. I was a demon on the handball court, with loads of untapped anger and velocity behind my swings, but this was different. Here he was, here I was, and when I looked closer,