I was a teenager when Michael Jackson became a household name. He was a stand-out in his brothers’ band, the Jackson Five. He was ten years old when he sang ABC, simple as 1 – 2- 3, Girl, I love you! I watched MJ grow up. I bought his first solo album, Off the Wall, after college when I was teaching high school in Nebraska. His song, Don’t Stop till You Get Enough, was my go-to song for swing dance lessons in the kitchen where my male roommate taught me some moves.
Then MJ changed his appearance. His nose got smaller and smaller, his skin lighter and lighter. He was becoming a white woman, as the joke goes. But I still loved him. Even when he was accused of accosting young boys, I didn’t believe it. I figured he was screwed up from his famous childhood, but he wasn’t a perve.
Then he squired three children, with more weirdness. MJ named his kids Paris, Prince and Blanket. It reminded me of when my three-year-old son named his first three goldfish Oven, Grass, and Pillow. But Michael was an adult, at least chronologically speaking.
MJ held his baby son over a balcony railing in Europe. Was it intentional child endangerment or just plain parental ignorance? He became more popular overseas than back home in the U.S.
In my first year of marital separation in 2009, I went to a dancing venue on a Thursday night in June. Everyone was talking about it – Michael Jackson had died that day. I couldn’t believe it. He was three years younger than I was — only 50.
The local band scratched its original opening set and played all Michael Jackson songs in his honor. I didn’ t know until the nightly news at 10:00 that he had died form an overdose of a medicine he never should’ve been given. His doctor got into big trouble.
A few years later, I went to a large singles’ party at an ex-marine’s house. The DJ wasn’t getting the crowd on its feet.
“Play Billy Jean?” I requested.
“No, I can’t. Don doesn’t like Michael Jackson,” TJ said. ”Sorry!”
I found the Marine host and asked him what the deal was.
“He was a pervert!” Don said.
“He’s dead,” I said.
“Oh, all right, you can have your Billy Jean.”
Right around the time Michael died, a new band was forming in San Francisco. They named themselves Foreverland and played only Michael Jackson songs except for a few from the Jackson Five. I heard them in my hometown one October a few years ago. They were fantastic. I am now sort of a groupie.
I heard them on the 4th of July one town over.
I heard them again at the end of July two freeways away.
I heard them two weeks ago three towns up the road.
I heard them again last night. This time I drove to Monterey (five freeways) and ended up going alone, because everyone bailed on me. I parked in the wrong parking lot and had to hoof it quite a ways to the Custom House Plaza near the wharf. I passed several homeless guys under the trees and wondered how it was going to be walking back in the dark by myself.
It was cold as I waited for an hour in my front-row seat. People in shorts and flip flops hurried by – tourists from the neighboring hotel. Finally a bunch of people my age sat down in the saved seats next to mine. As it turned out, they were from the Monterey Ski and Social Club, nice, friendly people. They lived there, so they had on winter coats, knit hats, and one slim guy even had on his long johns under his jeans.
I didn’t dance the first set but sat and watched. Foreverland has killer choreography, especially the four guys in the horn section. The shortest one is really into it, and three bigger guys have to keep up with him. The crowd was fun to watch. A grandma pushed her walker into the crowd and sat down to watch her young granddaughters dance and take photos of them. Little children danced with their parents. One guy even danced with his standard poodle.
I decided to go get a glass of wine to warm up. The Italian festival people were pouring generous glasses for $8.00. After I drank it, I suddenly wanted to join in on the fun and stood up to dance/sway with the crowd.
I almost didn’t go, alone. But then I did. It all worked out. I even got a woman’s phone number and an invitation to join the social club.
“You won’t meet a guy,” she said, “but you’ll find lots of fun girlfriends.”
Story of my life. At least I’ll have someone to hang with the next time all my Bay Area friends bail.
Couldda Wouldda Didda
I went alone and had 72% as much fun.