Sadly, Amy Winehouse said, “No, No, No,” and look where it got her.
I’m often slightly behind the times when it comes to popular music, and I find out about what’s supposedly current and hot by accident. Thus, I first heard Winehouse’s “Rehab” in September 2007 — only a few months after it was released, as it turns out — from an online playlist posted by the NowEx. But from the first time I heard that song, I was disturbed by it, not just for what it literally says but also in the context of NowEx, whom I was just beginning to get to know. He very much liked the song and he would sing along with it quite enthusiastically when he would get in one of his manic states.
In the months and years that have followed, we all got to witness the Winehouse train wreck. While I’m certain that I am not alone, I, for one, felt that “Rebab” would be prophetic. I fully expected that it was only a matter of time before we would read the headline we all read yesterday: “Amy Winehouse, Dead at 27.”
“Lots of parties and lots and lots of drugs,” NowEx replied to me very calmly when I half-seriously, half-jokingly asked him at the beginning of our courtship what he wanted to do when he grows up. A part of me immediately thought that this was the signal I needed to back away gently after that weekend was over, but clearly a much larger part of me was unable to overlook everything else that seemed so promising. So, that larger part of me just figured NowEx, 13 years my junior, merely needed a soft landing into the realities of adulthood, and I thought that I could be the person to gently guide him there. In other words, hindsight indicates that, yet again, the “rescuer” part of me emerged.
Time passed and we were living in separate countries, but we kept in touch constantly through Skype. There was no secret about the soft and harder drugs to which he occasionally had access. The episodes with the latter worried me intensely, but I figured they would become fewer and less important over time, especially once we would be together. It was established very early on that I would not and could not touch any myself, both because I have no physical tolerance for them and I would not want to jeopardize my job.
I realize I nonchalantly threw at you the phrase “when he would get in one of his manic states” just a few lines earlier. Indeed, whether or not his mind was “altered,” he could go from buoyant to blue in the matter of only a few minutes. It was striking, and even though I’m not a clinician qualified to make such an assertion but having known other people who displayed the same kind of mood swings, I am pretty certain that, if he were professionally assessed, he would be deemed manic-depressive or suffering from some kind of personality disorder. Nothing suggests that there’s a causal relationship betwen this disorder and drugs, but my common sense tells me that they don’t help any if the condition is present.
Then in early ’09, back in Mexico, a friend of his died — a friend with whom he had shared some crazy and magical moments, but with whom he had not been in touch much in the months (or perhaps even the years) prior to the sudden death. One such crazy and magical moments was a drive at breakneck speeds from downtown Mexico City to the beaches of Acapulco in a souped up convertible. Still, despite the recent lack of contact with this guy, NowEx was very fond of him. He was somewhere between my age and NowEx’s, and NowEx had spoken to me about him on several other occasions. I would even say that NowEx admired him in some ways — in fact, in many ways.
NowEx learned of his friend’s death in a social column in a paper. Apparently, this friend of his graviated in circles worthy of being written about in such columns — the “In” crowd. He died while NowEx and I were vacationing in Puerto Vallarta. The circumstances of his death were not clearly stated, but a drug overdose was widely assumed. Through many tears as he recalled his friend, NowEx, who knew this guy well, speculated that he probably reached a point where he just “let go.” This was someone, it seems, who was destined to live fast and die young.
One would think such a loss would turn someone off that “In” crowd, but not NowEx. One night as we were wandering the streets of downtown Montréal, he exclaimed, “¡Estoy aburrido!” (I’m bored!). He was thinking, on the one hand, about how he was missing the grand re-opening party at the “hottest gay club in Mexico City” which surely all his friends were attending and, on the other hand, the fact I felt too tired and not in the mood to go clubbing that night. As a concession to our different taste and age difference, I thought it only reasonable that he could go out to these places without me, but given that he had just switched to the opposite of manic mood a few minutes before his declaration of boredom, that merited me a clip that he needn’t the permission from anybody to do what he pleases.
I have just given you unprecedented insight into my mind-nubbing, crazy-making times with him, but that’s not the point of this post and the relation to Amy Winehouse. The point of this post was the first thought — no, sorry, the second thought — that crossed my mind upon reading the headline, “Amy Winehouse, Dead at 27.” The first thought, as I mentioned, went along the lines of “that’s sad but completely unsurprising.” But the second thought was about NowEx, and wondering if he, assuming he hasn’t changed, isn’t like his friend (and Winehouse): destined to live fast and die young.
It is a sad and troubling thought, although, I assure you, not enough to rekindle the fire of the “rescuer” in me. That fire, I fear, has burned me enough already. So, as Lady Gaga sings, “I’m not your babe, I’m not your babe, Fernando”. At least, not anymore.