Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson & Me

It's been a few days since I blabbered on about this disease that my doctors think I have. There IS more to life than this disease; and I am more than the sum of allergic reactions, masto flareups and feeling like crap. I'm not usually one to jump on the celebrity bandwagon, however, the "King of Pop" has died and with him has died the icon of my youth. I know he got 'weird' over the final years of his life and had this intense pre-occupation with plastic surgery and (shiver) little people. I've had trouble getting my head around the whole child molester part of his life. I don't want to down play it however, this is not my personal experience of Michael Jackson.

We moved to Canada when I was 12. I went to high school in Canada, (Oakville, Ontario, Perdue High School (recently demolished) to be precise.) I was British with a very thick lower middle class pseudo-cockney accent and my new schoolmates had a hard time understanding anything that I said. It didn't help that I started High School when I was 12 (thank God they didn't put me in Grade 11, like they were going to...) so I spent the first two years feeling incredibly homesick and alone. I went home to Days Of Our Lives and, music. It was a scant year or two later that "Thriller" came out.

With it, not only had I discovered that I loved roller skating but I also found out that I loved dancing and emulating moon walks, pelvic thrusts, dynamic twirls and standing on my toes. I spent countless, endless hours practising in our living room. My dad had left us and my parents split. I was living with my Mum in the first of many rental homes with green carpet. We were broke. However, I had a record player AND the Thriller Album (that I bought with my own babysitting money.) I put Thriller on, and danced, and danced, and danced. I sweated. I got trimmer. I got sassier. And finally, discovered some self-confidence. I forgot the custody battle, the alimony battles and my Mum's struggles to feed, clothe and shelter me. When the needle hit my record, there was only me and Michael.

My Mum thought it was good for me. She bought me poster after poster of Michael Jackson (one of the few indulgences she could afford us) and I carefully plastered my bedroom walls with him. I never noticed, until he became white later, that he was darker skinned than me. I never noticed the nose he was born with that he would go on to alter and change time after time, seeking nasal perfection. I've always felt sad that he wasn't comfortable in his own skin. To me, he was the man in the white suit who sang like an angel and moved like a God.

During one of the many rental moves, my box of records accidentally had a solid oak table top dropped onto it. You couldn't convince me that it wasn't on purpose. My Mum's new boyfriend had dropped it and the ONLY record in the entire box broken, was my Thriller album. My Mum tried to find me another album, and believe it or not, it was impossible to find one. She got me the Greatest Hits of Michael Jackson; The Jackson 5 Hits; and various Michael Jackson compilations and singles...but couldn't get her hands on another Thriller album. I suspect, still, that her boyfriend (now her husband) wouldn't permit me to have another one. He hated "Wacky Jacky", as he always ludely referred to him. I took offense every single time he called Michael that. I thought it was a crude ploy to prevent me from dancing in the living room with the record player blasting. Those days were over. The boyfriend had moved in and the living room no longer belonged to me. There wasn't enough room to dance in my bedroom (they'd put a Queen sized waterbed in there.) So, I had to contend with posters of my pop icon staring blankly at me. I spent less and less time at home; and my record player was hardly ever turned on. But I moved on to nightclubs, surly moods, black clothing and The Smiths.

The music, style and dance of Michael Jackson saved me. It kept me from seeking pain relief (home sickness; divorce; inability to fit in; crushes on gay friends; crushes on boys that I thought never noticed me...) in the arms of drugs, boys or other vices. I danced through my pain. I danced through my insecurities. "Billy Jean" and "Beat It" filled me with passion, confidence and the drive to dance the best I could. Michael's music created a much needed bridge for me...the bridge between my fears and darkness, and the bright self-confident girl I became. Madonna and University did the rest...

So, Michael, even though I was SURE I was the girl for you (along with 10 million other girls) and went to bed many many nights dreaming of dancing with you, thank you. Thank you for the music, the moves and the motivation.