I am sitting here locked up in my small room listening to old Michael Jackson albums. I have put on my old Beat It jacket that no longer fits and “Rock With You,” plays on my old record player. I have used up an entire role of toilet paper with my tears. My feet are refusing to do a final moonwalk in the solitude of my room because they are so filled sadness (after all, Michael brought my feet to life). Michael Jackson is not a pop icon for me but rather he is like a dear old friend of mine that I never really got to know. He shaped my musical and aesthetic sensibilities in ways that not even I think I am willing to admit. He has had an effect upon the body and world in which I live in more ways than any of us can comprehend and in my current dark moment of mourning I am grieving the loss of an era. I want to get up and dance, but my body refuses to move- so I think I will just sit here and write.
As a young man I would sleep in my Michael Jackson Beat It jacket. My father nor my mother could relate to my obsession. The eighties were an era shaped by Michael Jackson and I was one of its major casualties. I suffered the weekly red neck beatings that were the result of dressing in tight black pants with white socks and penny loafers along with the Beat It jacket and my sparkling single white glove. I am not sure if I really imagined myself to be the Caucasian manifestation of Michael Jackson- but I was certainly a devotee to his cause. Everyday after school I danced in my bedroom mirror to the sounds of his music and I mastered the moonwalk so well that people at parties would pay me to do it. I grew up in the suburbs, a long way from the world of Michael Jackson- but in my small town, for a select few- I was as good as the real thing.
My Bar Mitzvah speech was dedicated to Michael Jackson. I wanted to acknowledge him in front of all my peers for the massive influence that he had upon a thirteen year old, soon to be man. I told the audience that I had never been the same young man since I saw the Thriller video. I never knew that man was capable of making such inspirational music or moving their bodies in such magical ways. Michael Jackson opened up the world of song and dance for me and I told all the ladies in the audience that even though I was only thirteen, Michael Jackson had taught me how to be comfortable in my pants. I ended my speech by saying “thank you Michael,” and it was at that point that my mother brought my Beat It jacket to the stage, which I proceeded to put on and then do a final short Michael Jackson dance off the stage. During the party that proceeded my Bar Mitzvah I danced with a Michael Jackson impersonator and did the moonwalk several times across the dance floor. Over the years I have not been able to live my Michael Jackson phase down with the multitude who where present at my Bar Mitzvah- but now as an older man, who rarely rocks the night away, I am not regretful that I was able to spend a lot of time beating it when I was young.
I have received numerous text messages from family members and friends all informing me that Michael Jackson is dead. It feels like a shock that the great majority of people are having a hard time coming to comprehend. I have resentment when most people talk about the Michael Jackson who was accused of molesting little children and dying his skin. I never chastised Michael for the things he was accused of doing but rather I always accepted him for the eccentric that he was. At parties I will occasionally acknowledge Michael in the few moves I make during a dance- and every so I often I have been known to be an aging man who likes to do the moonwalk across the kitchen floor. I can not deny the fact that Michael Jackson is a man that defined my youth. I used to dream about running away to his wonder land. Often times when walking down a side walk I could swear that I would see the pavement beneath my feet light up just like in Billy Jean. I grew up in Michael Jackson’s shadow and now I sit in the dark, listening to old Michael Jackson records- knowing that with his death, a large part of my own youth is now….. officially gone.