A Mental Episode May Have Been Involved in My Reaction to Prince’s Death

Purple blooms outside the Albuquerque Press Club the night I went to see Purple Rain.
Purple blooms outside the Albuquerque Press Club the night I went to see Purple Rain.

My co-worker, the same co-worker who announced Michael Jackson’s death to me, came running down the hall and screeched to a stop when she saw me.

“Prince died!”

That’s what she said, but what I heard was “Prints died.” Her print job died? A stretch, I know. I frowned. “Huh?”

“Prince died. Prince, the musician Prince. He died.”

“No.” I said it the same way Cher in Clueless said “No” when Summer asked her if gang members shot Tai in the mall. “No,” as in, that’s the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard.

“Yes! He died.”

“No. It’s a hoax.”

“It’s not a hoax! He died.”

“No. Who’s your source?”


“No. I’m checking CNN.”

CNN’s site reported a death at Paisley Park.

TMZ has the latest” my co-worker said. “It’s Prince. Check TMZ.”

TMZ’s site had it in big letters: Prince dead at 57.


I checked CNN. No update. Rolling Stone. Nothing. New York Times. Nothing.

Twitter. First tweet I saw was a comic book blogger I follow, retweeting someone else: “No, no, no, no.”

“No, no, no.” I checked CNN. No update. TMZ. The site wouldn’t load.

Back to Twitter. Someone retweeted an Associated Press announcement: Prince’s publicist confirmed that Prince had passed away.

“Nope.” I stared at my computer screen. “Nope.”

My co-worker sensed a mental episode coming on. “I’ll leave you alone.”

I texted my girl T, the one I went to NOLA with in 2014 to see Prince in concert at the Essence Festival.

“I’m devastated,” she texted.

“I’m in unmitigated, full-on denial,” I texted back.

Me and my homegirl T at the Prince concert.
Me and my homegirl T at the Prince concert.

It was the day I visit my mom at the care facility. I brought her a fresh chocolate chip and Macadamia nut cookie from the local bakery, charged her cell phone so she could call her sister, and told her the latest shocking celebrity death. She clasped her hands to her head. “No. Not Prince.”

She was so distraught I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have told her. She said she wanted to know. But she didn’t want her cookie anymore.

In January, when I set up my new audio system, I pulled out my old cassette tapes to keep me company while everything was unplugged and pulled askew. I was pleasantly surprised to find I still had Prince’s Sign O’ the Times. “I haven’t listened to this in ages!” I plunked it into my cassette player and hit play.

My cassette player proceeded to eat my Sign O’ the Times tape.

I am really, really mad about that now.

I’ll never forget that end of school year lake trip when I was in junior high. The artsy, freckled, shaggy-haired boy in my English class was flirting with me big time. I think it had something to do with the swimsuit I was wearing. “Little Red Corvette” was playing from someone’s boom box up the hill behind us. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to flirt back at that age, and that was the summer my mom moved us to another city, so I never saw that boy again. It’s kind of a sad memory, actually. But “Little Red Corvette” was playing, and that’s the part that makes me happy.


A friend of mine who tends bar at the Albuquerque Press Club posted on Facebook that he was showing Purple Rain Friday night and streaming live from a Minnesota radio station playing Prince’s entire collection. After work I headed on down there in my purple T-shirt, purple earrings, purple lipstick, purple heels, and purple pedicure. Hung out at the bar with everyone else, drinking shots of whiskey and sharing stories of the impact Prince had on our lives and singing along to the musical performances in Purple Rain.

My friend said there’s now a void and others might be inspired to fill it. I thought sure, there’s a void, but Prince was only fifty-fucking-seven years old. Time’s a tick-tocking and I got to get my ass to stepping. Like, now.

Three yawns in a row told me it was time to go beddy ‘bye. As I drove home in the night, I thought about how my friend and I had stated our intention to lock ourselves in our respective caves and get our art done. I thought about how Prince’s death, as his life, had brought together a diverse group of strangers who loved his music. I thought about how grateful I was to have been able to see him in concert the summer before last with one of my best friends in the whole world. I drove home listening to “Little Red Corvette” at top volume.

That night, I slept better than I have in weeks.

3 thoughts on “A Mental Episode May Have Been Involved in My Reaction to Prince’s Death

  1. This is a lovely tribute to him.
    When I heard the news, the first thing that popped into my head was Julia Roberts signing in the bath tub in Pretty Woman.


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