Thursday, June 25, 2009

The One

She made a request for two sparkly gloves.

Not really knowing the magnitude of the pop star's talent or celebrity, Nana asked her neighbor to stitch up the two gloves because she wanted to make her granddaughters happy.

We were children of the 80s - Brig and I.

We wore Jams (never brand name - always some generic version my mom picked up at a junky outlet mall in Kings Mills) and jelly shoes (don't know if those had a brand name version - any version dished out blisters). We liked drinking juice boxes and eating Chicken McNuggets.

Michael Jackson was a part of our soundtrack.

I had a "Ken" doll of MJ, complete with the glove and a red, sparkly jacket adorned in gold rope and other militaryesque elements. Brigid got a MJ tape one year for Christmas - I think it was the same year I got Madonna's Like a Virgin.

I would stand in my bathing suit, home after a hot summer day at the pool, desperate to get in a few minutes of MTV before my parents made me change the channel (they weren't too fond of some of the more provocative videos on the "new" network), loving any chance I could get to see Beat It, Thriller and the rest of what would come to make an A List playlist on any iPod.

Thriller was the best selling album of all time - and you only have to listen once to know why.

The beat that can induce a racing heart. Dance moves ingrained in our collective memory. The quasi-falsetto voice that imparts sensitivity and gentleness.

Every girl loved Michael Jackson, and every boy wanted to be him.

Kids our generation bought clothes that looked like Michael Jackson's. We practiced the moonwalk in the full length mirror until our moves were good enough to display at the school dance. We wore high waders and white socks.

Michael made us switch to Pepsi - if for even a brief, shimmering moment.

Ask anyone and they'll have a favorite Michael Jackson song. For some it's the obvious Thriller. Others love PYT, Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough or even Man in The Mirror. I am a Billie Jean kind of girl. That hot drum action, synthesizer and Michael's background wailing is enough to get me to be the one, "who would dance, on the floor, in the round."

Over time, things changed.

Michael became ever more eccentric, picking up pet monkeys, Elephant Man bones and friendships with Macaulay Culkin. He slept in pressurized oxygen chambers and married the daughter of the King of Rock 'n Roll. His fashion sense swayed to the other side of the pendulum.

Wacko Jacko dove head first into plastic surgery.

Through it all, many of us held on to hope he would muddle through the chaos and crank out the next Rock With You or Black Or White.

His days turned dark - mired with accusations of child molestation, child endangerment (for the dangling-the-baby-on-the-balcony episode in Berlin), and financial woes. MJ's nose started falling off. Some wondered if all these troubles were the product of a stolen childhood and the pressure of success and carrying the family's burdens at such a young age.

We will never really know the truth behind some of Michael Jackson's struggles.

Part of me wonders whether we really even need to know in the first place.

Michael Jackson is a legendary musician of unparalleled talent. Michael Jackson is a father. His spirit surpasses his earthly existence, made indelible through vinyl, cassette, CD and iPod playlist.

Michael Jackson will continue to make girls (8 to 48 and beyond) squeal on dance floors at school dances and bat mitzvahs and weddings and nightclubs.

Michael Jackson will live on forever in many hearts. Mine chooses to remember him as a music icon, a man who stacked the deck with classics for the 80s.

Regardless of your opinion of Michael Jackson or your age, it's hard for anyone to disagree with his talent and sheer star wattage.

Even my 70-something grandmother could recognize the international phenomenon that was Michael.

Brig and I never did get those gloves Nana asked the neighbor to make for us.

No matter.

I have plenty of memories.

The kid is not my son, indeed.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

1 comment:

Suz said...

Regardless of any of the bizarre behavior, you can never deny how talented Michael Jackson was. We grew up listening to his music, watching his videos, and watching his incredible dancing. That legacy will continue to live on. And, that's "The way You Make Me Feel."