Friday, June 26, 2009
Gone Too Soon
I was sitting in Tom's Restaurant on 112th and Broadway, showing my friend, Jeff, where they shot the exteriors for Seinfeld. I heard an older Black woman sitting opposite me say "did y'all hear Michael Jackson died?"
I thought she was kidding. She was on the phone with her daughter, and she kept going back and forth between her phone conversation and us; she became our Brenda Blackmon. The owner at Tom's turned on CNN and the reporter said "Michael Jackson had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. He was not breathing."
"Thank God," I said, "at least he's not dead."
"My daughter says Fox News says he's dead," interrupted the woman.
"Fox isn't news!" I said. "They're never right about anything!"
I was just willing the truth away. Subconsciously I already knew he was gone: Both the woman on the phone and I heard the words CNN used to describe Jackson's condition: "Michael Jackson has been taken to the hospital...and he was not breathing."
"They never said he restarted breathing," I said, looking into that woman's maternal eyes for any sign of disagreement. She nodded affirmatively, and looked at me the way only a mother could, with firm sadness tempered with clear comforting. Her eyes were saying "No, honey, I can't lie to you."
I looked at Jeff, who said "that would be insane if it were true."
This was insanity.
I looked at the TV and on the bottom of the screen, CNN had chosen to do something it rarely does: It agreed with Fox. "Michael Jackson is dead," read the bottom of the screen. I felt like I'd been hit with a brick.
When my Mom was pregnant with me, one of her intense cravings was for ABC by The Jackson Five. I don't know if this is the reason, but I've never been able to get enough of that song. Whenever it comes on, I want to get up and dance, to the point of relying solely on my will power to restrain me as I have no shame. Naughty By Nature sought further to entice me when they sampled that song for the first and still only rap song my Mom likes. So even before I put on the mortal coil Mike has just shaken off, I knew his music. Ironically, the first song I heard on the radio after this news was "I'll Be There," a song I always thought Mike was way too young to sing (though he does so convincingly). All I could do was nod at his sentiment. He'll be there. Even though he is physically gone.