I can still see the cover of the LP, Barry White’s Greatest Hits: Dark blue and silver. I only bought it because Sheree Mendelson was nuts about Barry White and had danced with me to his song at a party. Long ago, that was, in the heady days of early puberty, when girls were women and boys were boys. Hormones heaving and bursting all over the place, oozing out of our faces and bodily orifices like there was no tomorrow. And amidst all this physical turmoil the intense and brief emotional attachments that felt like they would never end.
So too with Sheree, who became my dancing partner for a few minutes through the classical method: A friend of hers talked me into it while she herself grinned and waved from the other side of the room. I remember a fire-place and sundry other dancers, so it must have been a party in someone’s house. I also distinctly remember her distractingly large chest pressing against mine as we slowly shuffled about the darkened room to the smoochy sounds of the Love Unlimited Orchestra. Ooooh, Never Gonna Give You up … I almost believed it.
This wasn’t love, it was pure adrenalin, arousal, excitement, potential. There was no way she and I were going to be partners, but that dance lasted longer than any other I can remember. I was insanely proud to have been selected by a pretty girl who wanted me to hold her and squeeze her soft, warm shapeliness against me. The fact that she wanted to dance with me, was reason enough for me to remember the occasion.
Afterwards I bought the album just in case Sheree were to ever ask me at school if I had any Barry White records, or—who could tell—if she were to ever come to my house to see my stamp collection. The soaring, gravel-like bass tones of Barry White’s voice always conjure up the same image of Sheree’s coy smile. She was short, had small teeth and big hair. She was an inconspicuous girl, but the kind who seemed destined to have a lot of fun for the rest of her life. In my memory, she’s always in her school uniform, walking away from me and looking over her shoulder with that smile, those little teeth, holding out her hand, inviting me to join her for some fun and games.
For her sake I was able to overcome my aversion for disco music, although I kept the LP carefully hidden from my friends. The music fit her perfectly: Uncomplicated, harmonious and full of unconditional love and affection. Much like Barry White himself in fact, except that she was Jewish, a lot younger and far smaller. But in her heart of hearts she was just like his music: Passionate, sexy and loving. The kind of girl who wanted nothing more than to make me happy for a couple of minutes on the dance floor. Just like that, because it made her feel good too. Nothing more.
Who knows how many other people she has made happy in the intervening thirty odd years? I wonder if she also has fond memories of Barry White?