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July 20, 2008


My Dream Date With Amy Winehouse

Dear Playboy Advisor:

Who doesn't love bee hived British jazz chanteuse and troubled torch singer Amy Winehouse? The woman is the Billie Holiday of our time. She's sings with a sense of timeless romanticism, of aching loss, of soul crushing despair. I love Amy because she sings music for dark nights of the soul.

And who wouldn't want to have a dark night of the soul -- out on the town, that is--with a lady of such rare refinement and grace? Oh sure, you say, Amy is married, and that dreaming of a date with her is a little far-fetched. Yet, I often like to imagine, late at night, that under different circumstances, she and I were not star-crossed lovers under the same moon, but real soul mates not yet united in space. If she were to grant me just one date, this is how I imagine it would go:

First, I would pick her up in her East London pied-a-terre in Mayfair, where her large black bodyguard would frisk me down and destroy my camera. Then he would tell me to hang back because Amy is just finishing up with some business upstairs. I've brought her a bottle of Frixinet, a Spanish wine; the bodyguard instantly takes it away from me, smashes open the bottle and pours it out, then hands me the remainder. "Amy doesn't drink," he says.

When she finally comes down she's dressed in fishnet and tulle painted black, her trademark beehive spun up vertiginously high over her head like a trailing tornado.

"Don't bo'er with me. I'm a right sket. Real mankies inside, kn'wha-a-mean?"

"No, I don't, but I love the way you say it. Heh heh."

"Who're you 'gain, luv?"

"Why, I'm your date, Ms. Winehouse. Or may I call you 'Amy?'"

"Wass that you brought?"

"Well, it was Frixinet, but your bodyguard threw it out."

"Thas Raoul. Dodgy mac. Gone stark bollocks mad, has 'ee?"

This is when Amy throws up the first time. I must tell you, Playboy Advisor, that not only am I a dreamy man with an aching sense of romanticism myself, but I am a tolerant and patient man, who understands a person's hurts and driving desires. Oh yes, Playboy Advisor, Amy hurts. That's why her emesis goes by unnoticed and unjudged by yours truly.

Raoul gives me a note.

"Read this if something goes wrong," he says. Then he leaves.

We drink some seltzer, but soon enough I realize it's spiked with Scotch. She spends quite a bit of time playing with her beehive and occasionally cuts little slices into her forearm with a plastic knife.

"So, Amy, what are your interests?" I ask, a little playfully pushing around my fork, trying to be coy.

"Scuba doyvin'. Smokin' crack."

"You like nature, huh? Much like your romantic forebears, Byron and Keats."

"Dose bligh'ters 're dead, ain't dey?"

"Well, I like to think their poetry made them immortal."

"Think I'm gonna frow up again."

From there we move to her limo. I have to carry her half the way there, as she fainted on the stairs. She lifts her head momentarily to utter softly in my ear, "Right, you dodgy mac, keep your blodgy fingers off my Bristols or I'll four-square you in the li'l knackers. Say, why don't you cadge me a cig and some Britneys from that bar cross the way. Be a love."

I run my hand softly over Amy's hair. She has now more than ever struck a chord of affection in my heart, a woman who is beautiful and ruined. A perfect mix of Billie Holiday, of Saraghina from Fellini's classic film "8 ½," and Mary Poppins.

I kiss her on the forehead.

"I hope you don't mind me doing that, Amy."

"Do'in wha?"

She starts shaking a little as I carry her up the stairs to a fancy bistro in London's West End. The paparazzi is there in full force, taking lots of pictures as I, swoony as can be, pull Amy up the red carpet by her belt and elbow and finally by her hair.

"Dear Amy, don't you know when you mix Doriden and Codeine, your body converts it into morphine?"

"Well I 'ope so. Das why I took 'em."

A bright white froth is coming up out of her mouth.

"Oh you sweet, beautiful child! Please wake up. I love you so much, you saucy minx, and yet I'm so afraid you're going to stop breathing."

Amy is now a right mess after taking the "doors and fours," and I'm worried that we're not going to be able to make it to the mahi-mahi. The waiters part like the Red Sea as Amy and I make for a table in the back. Amy puts on sunglasses and lights a cigarette after a few waiters and I get her behind the table. The restaurant has high ceilings, solid teak-wood tables and shoji screens, and we are able to cook our own Kobe beef on braziers sunk into the table.

"Isn't this a beautiful place," I ask Amy, but unfortunately, the grill is smoking off her false eyelashes, one of which gets cooked into the asparagus and chicken skewer. Amy is embarrassed, picks it up and sticks it back on her eye.

"Do I look a'right?" she asks.

"Amy," I say, "There is nothing that could replace the beauty of this experience. This night is what we make it, you and I, and the only limit is our imagination."

"Watch this," she says. Then she takes her cigarette and snubs it out in her palm. "You like tha t? I din't feewl nuffing."

"Amy," I titter. "You're bad."

"My dad's a mean old sod. Says I got emphysemar from smokin' cigarettes and doin' eight-balls."

"Oh, Amy, my dad's the same really. Only he said youth is wasted on the young."

"What a tosser. If I were you, I wouln' give him anymore of your royalty money."

"Exactly." Oh how cute. She thinks we all get royalty checks. My girl is so funny sometimes.

Our dinner comes late, and Amy asks me to cook the beef for her, since she's too tired to lift her arms. Easy enough to do, because taking care of Amy isn't just a simple pleasure for me, but a passion. How could a man not help the woman who sang "Back To Black" with aching lyricism; who ripped through "Love Is A Losing Game" like someone who knew the pain first hand; who sang "Wake Up Alone," as one unafraid to be an exhibitionist and show her perfect pain, because it was simply her humanity on display. "Of course I'll cook your one-minute beef strip for you, Amy."

"You know," I say later, "I think it was Kierkegaard said that faith is more important than reason. That's why I really got where you were coming from when you sang 'Rehab.' It was really about the Sisyphean experience we all share—the moral imperative to go to hell in our own way and justify our own burden."

She retched in her purse. Quickly, I grabbed her hair and held it back. It was awesome, Playboy Advisor. Soon, when we were in a moment of soft touch, there was a moment of understanding that only fingers can know, when only a sigh can say its name. I was struck, as I was cleaning the yellow sick off her face, how much love one can feel in the deepest depths of emotional drama. I do not think I could love any other way but dramatically, Playboy Advisor. And in fact, I do not think I could love this way ever again, since the first knowing of it is what so greatly heightens its …

I have to stop, because Amy has gone into seizure. I'm not sure if it's the alcohol, the crack or the bodily converted stomach morphine. Or maybe she's epileptic, I'm not sure. I reach around for the note from Raoul. It says don't let her touch the sake. She is wiggling with her eyes back of her head and the first appearance of cyanosis is making her glow in the dark a little bit.

"Hey!" I scream. "Can somebody help me! It's Grammy winner Amy Winehouse! And she's in trouble!"

No one is around who can help, and thankfully I have prepared for my date with some rudimentary CPR training, which was only pragmatic, I must say. The beautiful sigh of her voice that mere minutes ago bespoke pained bluesy passion has momentarily stopped, most likely because of a respiratory system shut down due to a mix of heroin, alcohol and benzodiazepines. I listen close to see if she is breathing at least 12 breaths a minute, and put a spoon up to her mouth, hoping for a bit of that same tormented air from those pipes that so beautifully rendered "You Know I'm No Good" into one of the most heartbreaking acts of contrition ever to cut vinyl. I'm thinking of this as I rub hard on her breast bone and upper lip. And finally, I do what I must, Playboy Advisor, I bring my lips down hard on hers and wish to God that the blush of blood on her lips could be the nectar that breathes life back into this phoenix before she leaves us too soon.

I again look at Raoul's note, which has a picture of Amy in the recovery position on her stomach, head turned to side with airways unblocked so that she can get plenty of oxygen. I give her a few more "rescue breaths" and then turn her over, but that's when Raoul arrives, knocking me out of the way, and giving Amy a blast up the nose with a special spray that blocks brain receptors for heroin. Amy wakes up and asks if she ate all the beef or if there was any left.

Later, as we're walking home, Raoul's giant hand placed firmly on her shoulder, I ask Amy if she had a good time, and if she thinks I might be boyfriend material. She comes closer to me.

"Are you my 'usband? I'd say anythin' right now t'ya dearie. I don't even know where I am."

With that she turns and goes up the stairs into her apartment. And I, Playboy Advisor, am not bitter at all. Amy lives in a world we don't understand. And for me to share it with her for even two hours makes me feel an excitement ... makes me feel it will be hard to reach such great heights of drama and passion again. I've been told that such profound heartbreak is only the province of the silly young. But I ask you to remember when you were young and had a heart.

To hold Amy Winehouse, but not to have her, that is the greatest ache and the greatest love of all. And I sing to myself, "He can only hold her. He can only hold her …"

Oh my God, she puked in my jeans pocket. How does somebody do that?

From Eric Rasmussen's blog: