Monday, June 13, 2005

brush with celebrity

The world was all aquiver for the past week, in anticipation of the verdict to the Michael Jackson trial. Yes, I was curious to see what would happen. This curiosity abated with the word "acquittal". What more do I need to know? How much money was spent on this trial that could have been used to catch other criminals? Or teach a kid to read? Or find a cure for AIDS?

There is probably a slew of reasons as to why this whole charade is so exceptionally newsworthy, not a small part due to the fact that jacko is probably one of the most famous people alive, if not the most famous. A kid in Thailand may not know who George Bush is, but by god they can hum the tune to “Thriller.”

I got to meet Michael Jackson once. I spent two hours with him, as a matter of fact. As his waitress.

Fresh off the metaphorical boat to NYC, I was working two jobs, publishing assistant by day and server at a swanky restaurant by night. The wait staff had a mix of experience, newbies like me who had been on the island for five months, and a score of actors who had been slinging drinks in between gigs for years. Imagine my surprise when I go into work and found out that I was to be the lucky person to wait on MJ and his production crew. They were in town to record his last album.

They were late; they had to lose the paparazzi on the way to the restaurant. He came in, his foot in a cast and wearing the facemask. Once in the banquet room the mask came off and the party of six relaxed a bit.

Michael Jackson was very pleasant, polite, and subdued. He ordered vegetable broth and orange soda. The rest of his party ate and drank like kings - on his dime. They whole meal they pandered for his attention, trying to engage him in conversation. I have to admit, he did his best to comply.

There was definitely something off about him. It was like there was a heavy fog surrounding him, emitting this weird "please, just let me be" vibe. You could sense that he was so tired of always having to give something to everyone. Really, every single person who met him wanted to be acknowledged, noticed, touched. I realized the greatest service I could give to him was to let him alone as much as possible.

I felt profoundly sorry for him. You could just tell that fame had scarred him so deeply there was probably no recourse. He would have to be completely un-famous for at least twenty years to even regain a semblance of normality. This man did not just give the world music, dance, and culture. He gave the world his life and his sanity. Was it worth it? Especially when the world turns on him, so cold, so predatory waiting to see him go to jail?

I really hope the jury was right. All reason argues they are not, but why should I start believing the media now?

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