June 25. The day bits and pieces of my youth fell away like so much old paint on a sun-beaten windowsill. Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett, both of them gone. I didn’t think much of it at first. Just more in a long line of famous people coming and going.
The King of Pop
But it’s more than that. Those personalities were fused to my childhood like knee patches in my Toughskins. I wasn’t a huge fan of either celebrity or the knee patches, but both offered some sort of buffer. The celebrities softened the edges of the pains of growing up. The knee patches, well, they were indestructible barriers between my knees and grass stains. (It was odd how the Toughskins would break down around the everlasting patches.)
I remember listening to Michael Jackson’s She’s Out of My Life on Casey Kasem’s Top 40 while playing in the backyard. He broke down with a sob at the end. For some reason I can’t forget that. I remember watching the Jackson 5ive cartoon. I remember sleeping over at my friend’s house, a bunch of eighth graders listening to Thriller in the dark when it came out.
I remember Farrah’s famous poster (though I didn’t know it at the time) hanging in my brother’s room. I remember seeing that poster at the Glen Rock Firemen’s Carnival, just waiting to be won by some kid who could pop the right balloons or knock over the milk cans.
I remember playing Charlie’s Angels into the twilight during summer. I never wanted to be Farrah, only because everyone wanted to be Farrah. Sure, I was a boy, but I loved the way those ladies broke bad on the villains. Who wouldn’t want to be able to do that?
More recently, a friend of mine got a gig as the sound guy for Michael Jackson’s latest tour. He said that if he did his job well, it would give him the leverage to name his price for future sound jobs. Michael Jackson was still a big deal. “Before his death, Jackson had announced a 50 date sell-out This Is It comeback tour, in London, England“ (Wikipedia). Not too shabby. Michael Jackson still did it for millions of people throughout the world.
I don’t know that there is some deeper meaning here; I just was amazed that people I took for granted in their heyday, people I didn’t follow inentionally, could leave such a lasting imprint on my memories.