Thursday, September 8, 2011

Zapped in '84 - Debbie Michaels

My 'lightning bolt experience' was back in 1984, starting when I was 11 years old. 

We didn't have MTV at our house and I didn't yet pay attention to who did what song, so I must've been the last person in America who didn't know who Michael Jackson was! We hadwatched "Motown 25" months before and I had some vague memories of it. My mother latertold me we'd even watched "The Jacksons" variety show back in the 70's. Still, somehow I had missed Michael. I guess the time just had to be right ;)

That time turned out to be January 16, 1984. The kids at school kept talking about the American Music Awards that were to air that night. "You're going to watch, right?!" Of course! I didn't want to be completely left out of whatever the big deal was. That night I only half paid attention to the show while I did my homework on the floor in front of the TV. At one point I looked up when Michael was at the podium. I would like to say I instantly fell in love, but it's more accurate to say I was in some kind of confused state of bewilderment, lol. There he was in his sparkly gold and red jacket, dark aviator sunglasses (which he never removed), speaking in that high, soft voice, looking more gorgeous than any man should. And somehow it seemed that everyone else on the entire planet knew him and loved him! I honestly didn't know what to think. I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but it was as if I was looking at someone from another planet. I mean that he struck me as so unworldly, so out of the ordinary, so unlike anyone else I'd ever laid eyes or ears on. That was my impression as a sheltered 11-year-old. I just watched him, studying him, like being mesmerized, trying to figure out why I couldn't look away. I believe my parents made me go to bed before the show was over, so I didn't even see it all. Now, I've never been the type to go crazy over anyone just because they're popular. In fact, it was usually the opposite. Yet for some reason my mind returned again and again to this "Michael Jackson guy", and I didn't really understand why.

A few days later I saw on the evening news that he'd been badly burned while filming a Pepsi commercial. They talked on and on about this, showing the photos/footage of Michael, ever the showman, waving with his white rhinestone glove as they took him away in an ambulance. Everyone seemed upset and concerned. I was too, which surprised me. I was genuinely concerned about him. I felt it was so strange that I'd just learned of his existence and now he could potentially be leaving us. What weird timing. Although I knew nothing about him, I thought of him off and on over the next couple of weeks. Somehow he always found a way to float into my mind in some randomly curious fashion.

In February I bought Thriller (on vinyl ;) with my 12th birthday present money. I was interested in this album, not just because everyone else on Earth already owned it, but because I wanted to know more about whoever Michael Jackson was. I played the first track and exclaimed, "Oh my gawd, I LOVE this song! I didn't know he did this too!" The situation repeated over and over. "The Girl is Mine", "Human Nature", "P.Y.T." ... yep, it wasn't just "Thriller", "Beat It" and "Billie Jean"! Amazing. I started listening to the album every day after school, sometimes bringing friends over to help torture my mom by playing the same songs over and over and over and over, lol. I was so in love with his voice. Oh, that voice! I'd never heard any sound that could just go right through me like that. If I could've melted into it, I would've. Then came the Grammy Awards. Oh. My. God. I realized I was quickly finding something in common with "the girls in the balcony" ;)

The thing is, while so many of those girls on TV would go on and on about how sexy and cute Michael was (wait... he was "fine"... "fine" was the word in '84! ;) and those in the know would rave on about how he was the most incredible performer ever and Thriller was the biggest selling album in history, I wanted to know WHO he was. Who IS this guy???? Why am I so drawn to him??? It's not like me to go gaga over someone. The other girls have silly posters of guys up on their bedroom walls. That's so not me. And yet... I was just sointerested in Michael. I dug through old newspapers and magazines, scouring them for anything MJ, learning all about the Jackson 5 and the Jacksons and how we'd come to today. I went to the library for more. I wanted interviews. There could never be enough interviews! I didn't care what teen magazines had to say, I wanted something deeper, his words. What does he think? What's his life been like? What's his story from his point of view? How does he feel? What does he want? What does he dream of? What does he believe in? What is he interested in? I used to lie in bed at night and fantasize about being his friend and sitting by the fountain at his house in Encino, looking up at the stars and talking about life.

In a matter of a few short months I went from not even knowing who he was to being a walking MJ encyclopedia. I even discovered that songs I'd loved from years before (like from Off the Wall and even back to J5 days) were by... tada... Michael! But for me it was all very personal. He didn't feel like an object to me, which in retrospect I realize is a way to put into words how I saw some others' reactions to him. He wasn't 'Beat It' jackets and white gloves. He was Michael, this somewhat mysterious, shy, lonely guy who also happened to have the voice of an angel and be a total genius. And who could ~m~e~l~t~ me with his eyes. He made me giddy inside, shy, excited, everything. Oh, I just wanted to meet him. (And later marry him, of course! ;) By the end of that year I just loved him forever. It made no logical sense, not even to me. My room soon became the "Temple of MJ", as a friend called it, lol ... every inch of wall space was covered with Michael! I'd been caught ;) 

I still can't explain the depth of feeling I had for him or why it felt like such a personal bond from the very start. I'm now almost 40 and I realize 12-year-old girls seem to need someone to scream and cry for, hence the neverending stream of teen heartthrobs. But even in 1984 I knew this was forever. Ok, maybe that's what girls thought about New Kids on the Block, N'Sync, Hanson and the rest of them too, lol, I don't know. But I swear I just KNEW. There's no way you could've convinced me otherwise.  And it was more than that. Over the next few years I gained more of an insight into this feeling of connection. Call me crazy, but I always felt (even back in the 80's) that there were a great many of us who had incarnated along with Michael for some greater purpose, like we were literally here to change the world. How, I didn't know, but I learned to not say that too loudly ;)

So I consider springtime 1984 to be my "lightning bolt" time. I was certainly never the same again. Over the years Michael was always in my life. I've loved him every moment, with every heartbeat, and that will continue until I join him over there. I've lived a normal life ... I mean, relationships, jobs, all the usual things. Over the years I didn't dress like Michael, nor was I obsessed 24/7, but I was loving him within my soul 24/7, I guarantee. You'd probably never have known I was a fan (unless at a concert, if Michael became a topic or you dared to insult him in my presence). I never had the finances to travel far to see him, and that is something I will always regret... living in the U.S. and only able to go to one Bad Tour show. I thank God for that one time (!), but still... I longed to be closer. Seemingly fate had other plans in this life, at least on the outside. On the inside... I can't begin to list all the ways Michael has changed me, influenced me, saved me. I probably don't understand the half of it yet myself, but suffice it to say that I cannot imagine my life without him. My friend, teacher, guide, lover, best of joy, light in my heart, love of my life ... and now even more. "It's an adventure... it's a great adventure." And I'm glad I've been here for it, in spite of it being seeringly painful at times. The experience of loving someone so much, so completely, so deeply, so beyond even this realm and all from such a unique perspective ("someone you've never met") is a very special adventure indeed. I just pray I've been able to give something in return. Thank you, Michael. You know I'm yours forever.

~ D.M. - June 7, 2011
P.S. Here's a short video flipping through some of my scrapbooks from 1984 into the early 1990's . I wrote that "I love Michael Jackson forever" on the Human Nature folder that first summer :)

No comments:

Post a Comment