Bear with me. I know I’m a little late in talking about Michael Jackson and what he means to me. To be honest I didn’t think I could bear in adding my voice to this sad chorus, sad because of his death but also, to be one of many who thinks a celebrity actually meant something to me.
But I am finding that I feel a great sense of loss in his death. Is it stupid to say that I miss him? I never met him. His Encino home, where he grew up after he came to California, is a few blocks from mine. As you’ll see in a previous post, his house was decorated with heaps of flowers and stuffed animals from fans, mine being among them.
And now the city has demanded that life in Encino return to some form of normalcy; the streets are no longer closed off, “NO TRESPASSING” signs are stamped across the Jackson home, and all of the flowers and memorials are gone.
I’m not ready for us to carry on as usual.
Yes — I really miss Michael Jackson that much.
MJ, I’m sorry I wasn’t the best fan. I should have defended you more. In 10th grade, my best friend Simone and I were the only people who would stand up for you, but it wasn’t enough. I remember during English class we somehow started talking about you, and everyone made comments about how weird you were for bleaching your skin and changing your face, and I said, “He has a disease.” Simone said that you had vitiligo and I said, “But it’s more than that. He clearly has body dismorphic disorder. How could you blame him? He grew up with his father telling him he was ugly and calling him ‘big nose’. And look at his nose now. You think there’s a connection?” (However, MJ, I will stand by my opinion that, “You Rock My World” was just a rehash of your earlier, better tunes. It’s a fun song, yes, but it’s not your best BB.)
In 3rd or 4th grade, whenever it was that your Free Willy “Will You Be There” song became wildly popular, my friends and I decided to stage a dance to it and perform it for the talent show. We rehearsed all weekend, but come time for our audition, our friend Ayra let loose the word “hell” which in 3rd grade is a HUGE curse word and from there our dance fell apart. Looking back, it wasn’t a dance so much as it was us running around the stage, leaping occasionally, looking like crazed leprechauns, but we thought it was good. We loved you. (Needless to say, we did not make the cut for the talent show that year.)
When I was 6 or so, whenever “Bad” came out (my concept of time is shoddy to say the least) I would dress up as you, one glove and all, and lyp-synched your songs for my family. Looking back, again, it was embarrassing beyond belief but I thought I was bad and shamone.
When my mom was pregnant with me my dad took her to see you play at Dodger Stadium.
My point is, MJ, that I’ve grown up with you, and I guess I never really thought that you could die. You were like Coca-Cola or breakfast cereal — an eternal, American, childhood staple. I miss you and I should have been better. But because of the amazing person that you truly were, beyond the so called “weirdness” and masks and the Neverland, you would have forgiven me.
(BTW the title of this post is shamelessly lifted from “On Michael Jackson”, a book by one of my former Eugene Lang/New School professors, Margo Jefferson. I wish I knew what Margo thought of his death.)