Many of you are probably "over" hearing about this poor man. As with any emotional moment, I had to pause for recollection and remember why the reality of this man passing was causing me to grieve. And so I sit quietly and take a long journey, deep into my childhood, because like my virtual buddy Ed so eloquently said, his songs were a major part of my childhood soundtrack.
My sister and I shared a bedroom until she turned 12. It was at that time that she moved across the hall to the office and I patiently awaited the birth of Brother who would be my new roommate for the next 3 years. Anyway, our bedroom was an average sized room from the 70s. Immediately to the left when you walked in, were a set of bunk beds. On the wall adjacent to that was a window. Under the window held our chest of drawers. The two on top for my sister, the two on bottom for me. Next to that window was a large bookshelf filled with all sorts of books and scattered with a few dolls. The wall opposite the bunk beds had another window and underneath that was our little vanity that we shared, complete with a mirror that popped up to reveal an extra storage space. I had a drawer and my sister had a drawer. The wall next to that held the closets. We each had a closet with these french sliding doors.
Mom had splurged one year and bought a complete Bambi bedroom set, complete with curtains for each window, sheets, pillow cases, and a thin Bambi throw to go over the beds with these little tassels that hung at the bottoms. We had two posters in our room. One was The Fonz, with his signature thumbs up pose saying "Sit on it." The other, was the the above image of Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album. Interesting because near it was my little angel nightlight and a few feet from it was our framed photo of the Guardian Angel watching over two small children.
So stood Michael in our room, the glowing socks, that brick wall, etching a permanent place in that memory. We lived in a predominantly black neighborhood. EVERYONE knew Michael Jackson. Everyone wanted to dance like him, dress like him, and sing like him. We all knew his songs. I remembered practicing in the office (which would later become Sister's room) with a hairbrush, singing and dancing to Rock With You, Billie Jean, and Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough. Man, how I wanted that glitter outfit! I wanted to float above thigns like he seemed to do. I had no idea what he meant by his lyrics. I just knew I wanted to dance my little butt of and smile a big kook-aid smile that he always had when he performed. Oh, and I we listened to these songs on a record player. Gotta love that vinyl. We played that album over and over and over. Then came out Thriller and the Moonwalk. We'd then spend an inordinate amount of time trying to do our own Moonwalk down the hallway in our socks. Later, poking and touching one another to emit some of the electricity we'd build up. Little shocks here and there, followed by a giggle fit. Man, my sister was really good at moonwalking. She could do it on carpet, on tile, on sidewalk, in the snow, on a gym floor, she really rocked it. (Sam, do you remember it? Do you think you can still do it? I need to teach Mari!) The office became our stage and we were Michael Jackson, dancing with our Brooke Shields Barbie (because we were so excited to hear they had dated). Outside, we pretended the sidewalk would light up with each step, black penny loafers were cool, white glitter socks, bow ties, zipper jackets, parachute pants, one glove, and Weird Al. I had no idea who Weird Al was until he made his parody Eat It.
And yes, I knew the Thriller dance, I knew the dance sequence to Beat It. I don't remember us really having cable, but I remember when MTV first televised. I remember seeing Michael's videos on it. When I later moved, I realized that Michael's music wasn't just for black people or brown people, but white people, all sorts of people. Everyone who liked dancing liked his music. One of the first social gatherings I went to with our church was playing Beat It. I was SHY. Yes, hard to believe, but I was. Yet, when this song came out, I didn't hesitate to go out there and bust a move because I knew the steps. While I was the only one at first, I was soon joined by others. (By the way, I really liked the one gang member with the striped shirt who kisses his gal goodbye, was that just me? Ok, I was 6!)
I won't go into the personal after effects and his own issue. I'm just focusing solely on the music. Because like I said, that was a big part of my childhood and a little bit of that died the day he passed on.
And this post is mostly for my Sister anyway. Today is her birthday. I'm so very happy (and lucky) to have her as an older sister. We had sibling rivalry on an epic scale, but it also made our bonds so tightly woven that it was never broken. When we'd get in trouble, our parents didn't give us a conventional grounding, but rather would ground us from each other. Separating us was a horrible punishment. It's no wonder that in this day and age, I still seek her out. Looking to her for direction, guidance, and yes, even approval, at times. Still desiring to be included in her life, and ever so grateful for our morning chats about life, exercising, and anything else that comes to mind.
Happy Birthday Sam! And I hope Michael is able to finally rest in peace.