So it seems the whole world was stunned by the passing of Michael Jackson last month, temporarily forgetting or forgiving his numerous eccentricities that became more and more embellished as the years moved on. MJ’s big tribute takes place in L.A. tomorrow. I want to act as if I’m over it, I don’t really feel comfortable clumped as a crazed fan (for truly, when did I last listen to Michael Jackson?) And yet I can’t. I am humming the songs constantly. My second grader now knows the lyrics and my computer’s YouTube is parked on MJ. I am quietly embarrassed at how I can’t let this go. And you better believe I”ll be watching the show tomorrow.
In large part I know the obsession with Michael is attributed to the media frenzy: air we breathe readily and easily in the U.S. These words make great sound bytes and simply stick: icon, global, talent, tragic. I know I know, images of the chiseled remnants of a nose are disturbing, but, truly, if I stop and think of Michael Jackson and why I am so moved by his death I am taken back to a hot and sticky afternoon in Caracas, Venezuela in 1983 when I rushed from school to my friend Paola Albequerque’s house to watch a much-anticipated video called “Thriller.” Videos and MTV where brand new, and in Venezuela, unheard of. But somehow, my well-connected friend had snagged a copy on Betamax. A group of us crowded her bedroom as she slipped in the magical tape and Michael captivated us with his moves and his music, enticing us to forever try and imitate that stellar moonwalk. Like many of us now inching towards forty, it all began there: the budding of adolescence, where we clumsily clad ourselves in the 80’s, loaded with shoulder pads, feathered hair, way too much blue eyeshadow, and Michael Jackson. So it be fitting to approach forty and experience a sense of loss with Michael Jackson leaving my life just as abruptly as he entered it. I feel shaken and sadly nostalgic but I can still do a mean moonwalk.