It was with great and genuine sadness this week that I learned of the passing of my first celebrity crush:
I fell in love with Michael in 1983, when I was 8 years old. My love for him continued throughout the third grade and into the fourth. I was known throughout my school as the "crazy Michael Jackson girl." I wore one white glove to school for months. My mother had to forcibly restrain me from wearing it to church.
The elementary school I attended was made up of mostly African-American students. I remember my first encounter with racism: an older girl cornered me on the playground and told me that I wasn't allowed to love Michael Jackson because I was white. I thought of Michael and his love for all children, and told her that I was too, allowed, and she should just leave me alone.
My father gamely endured most of my feminine squeals over how "cute" Michael was, and helped me appreciate his music. Dad bought me Off the Wall as well as Thriller, and listened to it all with me. "Human Nature" was the first popular song to move me to tears. His videos thrilled me, though I couldn't watch the full video for Thriller until I was 27.
By the time "Bad" was released in 1987, I was over my crush on Michael. As the years went on, I progressed from teen pop to metal to grunge to alternative, but those Michael Jackson cassettes lived on in my collection. As things got stranger and Michael became almost unrecognizable, I remembered the music and the joy it gave me, and tried not to believe most of what I was hearing (though I couldn't deny what I was seeing).
About two months ago, I downloaded a collection of Michael Jackson music from iTunes. I put several of my old favorites into my "Music I Love" playlist and have been rediscovering my love for this music.
As we were leaving Branson on Friday, I plugged in my iPod, set to random, and "Human Nature" was the first song to play. Sven looked at me and asked, "So are we listening to Michael Jackson all day today because he died?"
"No," I answered, a little lump in my throat. "I just like this song."