I remember the moment I found out that Whitney Houston died.
I was sitting in Applebees in the Staten Island Mall. This is particularly strange because I eat at Applebees about once every 3 years. And I almost never go to the one in the mall. But I was hanging out with some friends from high school that I hadn’t seen in a while, and they wanted to go there.
My phone pinged, as it usually does every 45 seconds, and I looked down at it.
“AP reporting Whitney Houston is dead at 48,” the email said.
I was shocked. I mean, yeah, I knew about her issues. But I didn’t expect her to die.
I told my friends, and we chatted about how sad it was for a bit. But I thought it would end there.
The next day, I was working with our New Jersey unit. Even though we have the words New York in the name of our station, we cover parts of Bergen County, NJ. Weird, I know.
The thing about our Bergen unit is that there is almost no news to cover. A big story is a water main break or a car robbery. So I figured I’d have a nice quiet day–maybe I’d cover a farmer’s market or something.
Turns out Whitney Houston’s mother, Sissy Houston, lives in Bergen County.
I drove to Edgewater and found Sissy’s building, all while listening to Whitney’s music blaring through the car radio. I could tell I was in the right place, because there was another news van parked outside. But the apartment complex looked deserted.
So for about an hour, I waited outside the building. During that time, only about 3 people went in or out of the building–and I could tell by looking at them that none of them were related to Whitney.
The whole time I felt kind of sick to my stomach. I don’t know how the people from TMZ do it every day. If I did encounter Sissy, what was I supposed to say? Sorry about Whitney, but do you have time to comment about it to your favorite local news station? I really loved “The Bodyguard”…so how do you feel about your dead daughter? Do you think she was lying when she said “crack is whack”???
After waiting in the January chill for over an hour, I was finally cleared from the scene by our assignment desk (the news truck had left as well–I guess no one talked to Sissy that day). I went down to a local shopping center and interviewed random people about how they felt about Whitney’s death.
I was glad to finally go home at the end of the day, mentally exhausted and physically frozen from standing outside for so long.
Even though I never got the interview, I have become famous around my office for my attempts to chase down Sissy Houston. In fact, many of my coworkers refer to me as “the girl who got the exclusive sit down,” even though I didn’t. They like to tell people she picked me over an interview with Anderson Cooper or Katie Couric. If only.
But I guess I could be known for far worse things.