Paris,

First, a foreword. If you read this, please read it all the way to the end (especially the stuff near the end), to avoid coming to a wrong conclusion. Thanks.

I want to clarify a thing or two I've said in the past. I was having a nonsexual relationship with Whitney Houston in 1979. She was 16, and I was 21. I enjoyed her company. She was into drugs then, and presumably only got more into drugs with time, over the years (digressing a little).

Anyway, one day she asked me what she should change her name to. I took the comment literally, thinking she wanted to have a showbiz name different than her original name. Some of my previous comments were about my giving her the name, Houston. That is only indirectly true, at most. You see, on further reflection on our discussion, I believe she told me her last name was Houston. Then I suggested she should keep it, since it seemed like a good name to me. I told her about a street a few streets south of my place, that is called Houston. See, I gave her the name indirectly, if you consider that she may have changed it if I hadn't suggested that she keep it. In trying to remember the details of that conversation, I got a little mixed up, and said I gave it to her. That was so many years ago, it isn't really a wonder I had trouble remembering it perfectly.

Now, about taking her literally, I thought what I described, above. In hindsight, I'm sure she was making one of her earliest marriage proposals to me, wrapped and hidden in the idea of a "name change." At other times with her, afterwards, she made it very clear that she wanted to marry me, with no ambiguity.

The first day I was with Whitney (at least I think it was the first day, as best I can remember it), we went, by ourselves, into a Restaurant then called Ben Frank's. It changed its name to Mel's afterwards. We sat at the counter. One of the first things she said to me was, "Have you got any Quaaludes?" Of course I didn't, since I wasn't into any drugs. At one point, we were standing in the place in a prolonged passionate kiss. To this day, it was the deepest, most passionate kiss I've ever experienced, with no close second.

From then on, I would be in Hollywood, because I liked to hang out there, back in that era. In fact, I still like to hang out there. I would be someplace there in Hollywood, without even necessarily thinking about Whitney, and she would come to me from out of the blue, as if on queque. It's as if she had a grapevine that told her when I was there, and she'd approach me, and we'd spend time together.

Moving along with this account of Whitney and I, the talk between us got more and more in the direction of marriage. She made it very clear that she wanted to marry me. I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't tempted. I was very tempted by the prospect of continuing our relationship, even on that ultimate level. I also had general issues against the idea, partly because I was still so young at 21. Ultimately, I broke it off with her, which really felt like it broke my heart. I got this image of her in my mind of her as my dedicated wife and mother of my children, and it was a very  touching thing. It pains me to think I may have hurt her feelings in resisting the idea of marriage. I cared about her, and I still care about her, but now she's dead.

Getting back to that time we were in Ben Frank's, we had just completed that long impassioned kiss. I was standing there with her in my arms, and I had one thought in my mind, namely: "I will always love you." I believe I verbalized it to her, maybe more than once. I was numb with that one thought filling every bit of the substance of my being. That one sentence sums up the net effect of that one visit to Ben Frank's with Whitney Houston. It's still true. I still care about Whitney, and I believe I'll always feel guilt towards her for ending our relationship.

To reiterate, the picture I found in my mind of her as my loving and devoted wife and mother of my children (yes, she wanted to have my children, she told me so), fills me with awe, and residual guilt. I'm left with the artifacts of an earlier relationship, an earlier love, and an earlier guilt still lingering.

I was going to say that now I've got the further burden that the situation can never be repaired, as Whitney has entered the beyond. Well, maybe she felt real love for me, or maybe she didn't. I know I felt love for her that moment in Ben Frank's. What she felt, or didn't, may remain a moot point.

In closing, I tell you that the last time I was with Whitney, I left her a song. I told her she may want to record it. I think it was still in 1979, or 1980 at the latest. I sang it to her. Have you guessed which one, yet?
Answer: I Will Always Love You.
That song is, vicariously, the implied story of our impassioned kiss and embrace on one otherwise dreary day, in 1979, in Hollywood, in Ben Frank's restaurant, on Sunset Boulevard. How many  people will know or realize that? I've just told you, so now you know.

Now, this presents one question: Do you think that song meant what I just said it did, in Whitney's mind, when she was singing it so many times?

Now, the above last line would make for a poetic storybook type ending, but there is more I need to say. I don't want anyone to think that I'd be trying to take credit for Dolly Parton's song, I Will Always Love You. That's what I want to explain, now. In my parting words and moments with Whitney (I think it was the last time I was with her in about 1979), the words and melody came spontaneously to mind. I still don't remember ever having heard it before that point in time, but apparently I had, in as much as Dolly says it's hers from 1974. Okay, then it's Dolly's, from 1974. I wasn't expecting to make money from it, anyway. It was a parting gesture. In any case, Dolly got her credit and her money in a timely fashion, so that's that. As an after note, I can't resist pointing out that, in all likelihood, Whitney would never have recorded that particular song had I not suggested it to her. My suggestion made Whitney rich (certainly richer) and Dolly richer, also. So, all seems well there. Also, those words (in the title) are exactly the ones that were on my mind in Ben Frank's, while still in Whitney's arms, while savoring the afterglow of that kiss. It happened exactly that way.

Someday, maybe I'll meet Whitney again in the beyond. Who knows.