Michael Jackson has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to Michael as a preschooler through the song, “Beat It.” I loved that song so much that I sang it all the time, and I do mean all the time. Now, I was only 4 years old so when I say “I sang that ‘song’, ” I mean that I sang 2 words. I’m fairly certain you know the two words … “beat” and “it.” But, I sang those two words with every bit of emotion my 4-year-old body could muster. From the time I woke up until I went to bed for a few weeks, I sang “Beat It” at the top of my lungs. My family, though, was very patient and understanding about my enthusiastic, if somewhat limited, musical musings. As my sister said one day, “we always knew where you were. We just followed the words ‘beat it’ until we found you.”
A few years later, when I was in 1st or 2nd grade, the entire student body of my school was summoned to the auditorium in the middle of the school day. Since this was a surprise assembly, we were all conjecturing about what was happening and why our school day was being interrupted. Since I was in one of the younger classes in the school, I sat three rows away from the stage in a seat next to the aisle. Once all of the students were situated, all of the murmuring ceased when we saw our principal emerge on stage. I have absolutely no recollection of what she said.
All I remember is moments later Michael Jackson took the stage and we collectively lost our ever-loving minds!!! We all screamed and laughed and shook like nobody’s business. That school was for kids with physical disabilities, so the vast majority of us had difficulty walking. This was a good thing because if we could walk better, there would have been about 100 kids rushing onto that stage, mobbing Michael and losing our minds even more, if that was possible. As it was, we barely heard the first song he sang because we were screaming so loudly. By the second song, however, we all began singing along with him.
After Michael finished singing his last song, I was utterly upset because I was nowhere near the galaxy of being ready for the show to end. I was 6 or 7, though, and didn’t know what I could do to avert the catastrophe of the music ending. So, when Michael left the stage and walked down the aisle I was sitting next to, I did all I could think of. I stuck out my arm to stop him from leaving. Startled by this little fist that suddenly extended from a seat, Michael stopped his brisk walk up the aisle, looked over at me, smiled, very gently picked me up and held me for a few minutes. I gave him a hug and he asked me if I liked the show. My principal came over and took a few pictures of us. Michael then very gently put me back in my chair and proceeded to leave.
I was in shock at what just happened! All my friends asked, “What is he like? What did he say? Is he nice? How did you do that? Did you always know Michael?…” All I could do was look at them. Words failed me… I couldn’t believe what I had just done. A few days later, a picture of Michael and I hung in the principal’s office. Several years later, I realized that nice man with a great voice and awesome dance moves was a Michael Jackson impersonator; but at the time, I was certain he was the real deal!
Since those early years, I have continued jammin’ to Michael. Whether he was working to “Heal the World,” not seeing “Black or White,” or was looking at the “Man in the Mirror,” I have been bopping along to the beat and making sure that everyone in my life has a healthy understanding of my love of his lyrics.
After Michael passed, one of my good friends, Tim, took me to see the movie, “Michael Jackson’s This is It,” which has behind-the-scenes footage of Michael rehearsing for his last concert. This movie has every single song of Michael’s that I love! Not only that, he performed every song! I was in Michael Jackson heaven. Since this was a movie and not an actual concert, however, I restrained myself by dancing only a bit in my wheelchair and quietly singing along with Michael.
When the movie ended and the lights came up, Tim started helping me get ready to go. As we were getting my jacket on, a woman came up to me and said, “I love Michael’s music too.” I smiled at her.
A man came up to me and said, “You sure enjoyed that movie!”
Another woman said, ”I don’t know what I enjoyed more, watching the movie or watching you enjoy the movie!” Tim and I both laughed.
Perhaps, I wasn’t quite as restrained as I thought I was… Once my coat was on, I looked at Tim and said, “Tim, I am tired!”
Tim smiled and said, “I don’t know why Allison. You only danced for the last 2 hours straight!”
Touché Tim, touché! Michael’s music just has that effect on me.4 people like this.