Thursday, August 6, 2009

Michael Jackson is tearing our family apart

Hey. This is Ryan. The King of Pop may have passed on from this world, but he is alive and well at our house. And it's causing rifts the size of the Grand Canyon between my children and me.

On the day Michael Jackson died, we were on our way to the zoo. We love the zoo - especially because we bought a year pass and so it offers something "free" to do in the summer. It gives me some time of silence while the kids are entertained for two minutes. Nothing is better than spending a hot day, walking around and smelling heated animal waste, but it's something to do. I don't even have to chase them out of the goat pens anymore.

So, we were on the way to the zoo and we heard on the radio station that Jacko was in the hospital. "Daddy, Michael Jackson is in the hospital!" Ally said, alarmed.

"Good!" I replied sarcastically. "I hope he dies."

Watching Ally's face fall a little in the rearview mirror made me wish I hadn't said that. "Why do you hope he dies, Daddy?" she asked. Her voice was a mixture of concern and wonder that made my heart sink a little. Plus, don't forget the fact that he actually did die later on that day! I felt horrible.

"Look, I don't hope he dies," I said. I wondered why I had said that. I actually liked Michael Jackson in the 80's. I really liked his music, at least. It wasn't fair that I had judged and sentenced him based on what the media had "reported" in recent years. I mean, we don't really know any confirmed truths about the guy. We will one day, but I try to make it a point not to wish death on anyone.

I tried to dig myself out of the hole I had gotten myself into as my daughter met my eyes in the mirror. "You don't even know who Michael Jackson is," I shot at her, hoping this would deflect any more questions.

"Uh, duh. He sings, 'Thriller,'" she answered. Damn that "13 Going on 30" movie. That's the only reason she knew about "Thriller."

"OK, you know that one, but do you know 'Beat It' or 'Black or White' or 'Billie Jean'?" Whap. I stumped her.

"You could show us on iTunes when we get home," she said.

"OK, we'll do that when we get home," I said, hoping the zoo would make her forget about Michael Jackson.

It didn't. When we got home, our neighbor - he's from California and talks like a gangster even though he's white as paper - was blaring Michael Jackson music out his front door. "Let me guess," I said as I caught his eye. "Michael Jackson died, didn't he?"

He actually choked on his words and I had to turn away to hide my smile like the insensitive jerk I am. "Yes, the King of Pop is dead. He's in heaven now, doing the Moonwalk."

Seriously? Ally dragged me inside to look for more Michael music. We listened to 30-second clips and that seemed to satisfy her. She went out to play with the neighbor's twin boys. Apparently though, it turned out to be a "Discover-Michael-Jackson" play date. She came by several minutes later with a compilation CD and asked if she could rip it on iTunes. I said yes and we rigged an homage to the King with "Billie Jean," "Black or White," "ABC," and of course, "Thriller."

In the following weeks, Ally has become quite proficient in searching YouTube for clips and videos as well as singing snippets of songs (usually it's "Hey pretty baby with the high heels on ..." and that's it. She never finishes it). Which leads me to how it is tearing the family apart.

One night, as Ally searched for different videos, I told her to watch "Thriller," which led Lisha to throw her body over the keyboard like she was taking a bullet for the president. "That will scare the crap outta them!" she yelled. I think that scared them more than "Thriller" would have.

So I told Ally to watch different things, but she was already running out the door to play with friends. She was actually running to another neighbor's house, we found out later, to watch the banned "Thriller." Emma went with her, too.

They came back a little while later, singing, "Thriiill-er, Thriller now ..." and reporting that they loved the music video. Lish was already at work, so I couldn't gloat. But when she got home, I told her the kids had seen every Michael Jackson - even "Thriller" - and they loved them.

The next day, we went to Hastings and found the DVD of his greatest video hits. I was tired of waiting for the videos to load on YouTube and having to respond to, "Why is it so slooooow?" Ally was ecstatic. Now it's an argument almost every day about what video is the best. For the record, Luke loves "Black or White" while Emma's favorite is "Do You Remember." Ally sticks with "Thriller" most days, upon which everyone starts yelling that they have changed their minds and "Thriller" is their favorite - because you can't share a favorite video apparently.

Just one more Michael Jackson-related item that made Lisha and I almost die laughing: While the kids were talking with their neighbor friends on the trampoline, they were discussing which video they liked. Again, they all staked claims in their various videos. But the neighbor girl said, "My favorite is 'Dirty Diana.'" We had to stifle our laughter so she wouldn't be too embarrased. Really? "Dirty Diana?" Who likes that song? I guess our dirty little neighbor.

One more thing: my girls think that Michael Jackson is "cute." Emma constantly tells me that she thinks he is, "So cute, Dad. The Black Michael Jackson, though," she is quick to add. "Not the White Michael Jackson. Ally likes the medium White Michael Jackson."

Here's your chance to declare your remorse and love for the deceased King of Pop. Tell us your favorite video and why, as well. My favorite MJ song is a tie between "Man in the Mirror" and "Black or White." I'm including some YouTube links for nostalgic reasons. Hoo!

This is the official Michael Jackson YouTube channel:

You can access most of his videos here, if not all.


meand4boyz said...

oh my goodness, I am laughing so hard I am crying. You must be the nicest parents EVER!! I refuse to let my kids have ipods and music yet or teach them how to search for a URL on my computer. I can only imagine what they would want to look for if they knew the possibilities were this endless. And, by the way, Alexis Grace apparantly likes the song "Dirty Diana" because she sang it on Idol. I thought it was disturbing and horrible :), but of course the judges LOVED it. Funny, dirty little neighbor and California gangster white as paper!

lisha said...

I am partial to Billie Jean--because I danced to it when I was little. I also really like Smooth Criminal and Black or White.

e said...

Um, Dirty Diana is MY favorite MJ song. So take it back! Smooth Criminal is a close second.

Sandi said...

I know I was there in the 80's but I just wasn't that in to MJ. Maybe it was because I was the oldest, so I didn't have teenage siblings showing me what was cool. My favorite song from the 80's (not MJ) was the Bangle's "Walk Like an Egyptian" followed closely by "Manic Monday." The closest I get to MJ is Weird Al's hilarious parody "I'm Fat."

Darci said...

I'm just ready for the media to let him die. Are we looking at a potential "Elvis" phoenom??? I can't take hearing about MJ for the next 95 years! As to his music, it is ok. I won't be searching it out on you tube much though...

Shanakin Skywalker said...

My 6yr-old has decided to sing "Bad" for the talent show this year. I'll get you the video when that happens. "Smooth Criminal" is the best MJ video, jussa'in.

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