When I was 20, I accompanied my mom to a Christmas craft fair. I guess I was making up for all my teen years when I made her walk separately from me when we were in public together, for fear of being seen with my mom by kids at school. Typical. So, off I went to the land of quilts, handmade soap, glued twig ornaments and potpourri.
My mom is a socialite, and every single place I go with her she runs into someone she knows or knew at one time. So, sure enough, I turn my head and she’s yacking with some woman about her age. Customer of mom’s maybe. Or school friend?
“Jamie, come over here.” Mom still calls me Jamie.
I walk over smiling ready to shake hands. The woman, blonde, but a little raggy on account of having a few kids running around at home (which I imagine is all craft fair artisans talk about when they get in groups: “I just couldn’t finish my crochet Santa Claus pillow case because little Kenny, Kasey, Kary and Kurt were running around like terrors! Ha! Ha! They’re really growing though. Here’s pictures.”)
I join the two of them. “Hi, I’m-”
“CAN YOU STILL DO THE MOONWALK?” She splurts.
Okay, after being blown out of the normal social protocol of meeting someone, I realize I know exactly what this is all about.
I grew up on Michael Jackson. Okay, that reads wrong. I was raised on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album. It came out when I was one and a half and Mom and Dad bought the record when I was in my late three-year-olds – the perfect impressionable age.
Now, Mikoh Jasksown (in my kiddie pronunciation) at this time was the shit. Hands down. Forget what you knew about him in the 2000s. He was the friggin’ man. The way he danced. His awesome gold and army-style costumes. The beats and his aggressive voice. And the way he danced again. He was my idol (taking Cookie Monster out of the top spot.) Mom even made me the glittery glove and it never left my hand, even when it made my hands itch and burn like a bum rash.
Mom would walk me to the local grocery store. Mom loves to tell the story, how I would strut in there with my MJ glove and big sunglasses like it ain’t no thang. The girls working the till asked me, “Are you Michael Jackson?”
I nodded my little head.
“Can you do the moonwalk?”
Ha! Of course I could! And I did it. Smooth as butter sliding across a hot pan.
I’ve refused to do the moonwalk since turning nine, but last Thursday after watching the news change their story from cardiac arrest to death, I came home and played Michael Jackson’s entire discography on repeat. But before falling asleep, I cleared the floor of my apartment, wiped what tears I had, and moonwalked like it was 1983 all over again.