Friday, June 26, 2009

I was in my 20s before I understood who Billie Jean was and what her song meant

One of my best friends is a Michael Jackson fan. Has been forever. I remember vegging on his couch in December of 1993, watching Michael Jackson's press conference addressing the then-current charges pending against him. D.J. never wavered in his support of Michael Jackson, never took the easy road and went along with all of the jokes that were flying at the time, never stopped liking his music and doing one of the best moonwalk impersonations I've ever seen. When news started coming out yesterday afternoon regarding Michael Jackson' emergency/coma/death (depending on your news source of choice, and exactly when you were being updated), the very first person I thought of was D.J. It takes guts to stand your ground when everyone around you is making jokes and derogatory comments. I admire that.

I am not a non-fan of Michael Jackson, nor would I call myself a fan. I don't know what to make of the charges against him before - I know he was cleared, but that doesn't make things clear, really. Perhaps he was just a lonely man who really never did grow up and was genuinely just happy to be around kids. Perhaps there was more to it. I don't know. But I, like everyone else in my generation, can mark specific milestones in my life by remembering what Michael Jackson songs were popular at the time:

1. 1983 - my best friend, Lori, was the only person I knew who had MTV (she was also the only person I knew at the time who had a VCR and/or a microwave oven, thus lending credence to my belief that her family was rich. They were not). We watched the video for Beat It repeatedly. It was magical.

2. 1991 - I lived in an apartment by myself during part of college. I loved it. Black and White was popular at the time, and MTV played it all the time. Yes, I had MTV myself by that point. I was definitely movin' on up in the world. I remember being in my living room, reading by the light of the little white lights I had strung around the walls, being very content with the little life I had built for myself.

3. April, 2004 - Thriller was featured in the movie 13 Going on 30, when everyone at the stuffy party knows all of the line-dancing moves to the song and they stage an impromptu dance along. Jennifer Garner is an under-rated actress, and the movie also featured Mark Ruffalo, who is many things, all of them good. More importantly, it was one of the first times after the birth of my daughter, almost six months before this, that I went out without my kids and husband. Brenda and I went to see it while Kevin stayed home with Joseph and Kate. I was nervous and, of course, I had an amazing time.

It's hard not to be affected at all by the death of someone who has provided some of the soundtrack for your life.

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