The Man Behind the Memories

by Lesley on November 15, 2009 · 1 comment

in family,music

Thanks to Michael Jackson, and my dad, I started break dancing at 3 1/2 years old. We have home videos in our living room, MJ and Bruce Springsteen records play in the background, as my dad lays Scott and I on the wood floor, takes our legs and spins us like a Twister dial. My brother and I usually loved this game, except for the one time when I, Sissy, turned a little too sissy and began to cry. No surprise there.

As soon as Allison was out of her high chair, she joined in the fun. When I was maybe ten years old, my parents bought a VHS tape that highlighted some of Michael’s best music videos. We watched that tape many, many times.¬†Looking back, our Michael Jackson obsession might have been somewhat¬†concerning odd to other parents. While their children were watching Bambi, our eyes were glued to MJ as he grabbed his crotch, hiccuped and moonwalked his way into our hearts. It wasn’t until we were older that we began to realize just how odd the King of Pop really was. The VHS tape got lost somewhere (or, perhaps damaged from too much play) and we grew used to the fact that the music superstar wasn’t quite as amazing as he used to be.

Last Christmas, Allison found our favorite video collection of music videos, and had the DVD shipped from Indonesia. We sat around on Christmas Day and watched the entire thing. I could still remember my favorite parts–the Jackson 5 performance, his odd moves during Rock with You, and the Beat It music video. As we watched, I found myself saying, “Oh oh oh! Here it comes- this is my favorite part!” It was as if no time had passed.

When Michael died last June, I was in Murrietta for Katie’s wedding weekend. Very early that next morning I drove to Orange County to take my dad out to breakfast. Every radio station I’d grown up with was playing his songs and remembering his great moves. I jumped from station to station, remembering different parts of my childhood as I went. Michael may have received way too much attention in the next few months, but I believe many people felt the way I did- we weren’t remembering the man, but the memories he’d created.

Last night, J0nathan and I saw This is It. I’m glad we did. The movie reminds me of the Michael we loved–the dancer, the singer, the entertainer. He was an odd man, who grew stranger as the years went by. While I don’t idolize him one bit, I am thankful for his music and dancing. Because what would any good school dance or wedding be without a little MJ?


(photo: My sister, Allison, and our parents dance to Thriller at Katie’s wedding while I laugh. Photo credit to Erica B.)

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Lesley was an amazing break dancer. Tears would fly only when I had her spinning at over 78 rpm's. Sadly she gave up break dancing at an early age. And the hip-hop world has wept ever since.