Forever MJ

Speaking of dancing, First Son has slowly put his subway love aside for Michael Jackson. He heard “Beat It” at a playdate, which has possessed his brain. He has descended into a scholarly review of all things MJ, including the albums and Weird Al Yanokovic parodies (and beyond. He knows all the words to “Amish Paradise.”) To love MJ is to love his dancing. The man, troubled as he was, was an incredible dancer. The way he moved…nobody else can do that, you know? I can tell First Son is always thinking about MJ. Whether he’s on his way to school, to the kitchen, to the bathroom, he will suddenly break out a move or strike a pose that mimics the hip-swiveling, ankle/wrist snapping Bob Fosse-influenced choreo of Michael Jackson apropos of nothing.

First Son is not a performer exactly. At least, he exhibits the opposite of wild enthusiasm whenever school requires the kids to go on stage. However, left to his own devices, he sinks into his imagination and all bets are off when he’s in his own music video world. He is not shy about taking up as much space as he likes, belting out “Human Nature,” “Man in the Mirror,” “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” “Remember the Time,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough,” “Thriller,” and “Off the Wall” with accompanying slithering moves. For Halloween, he dressed in the Thriller video costume. For his birthday, I brought in cupcakes decorated with mini–Michael Jackson Thriller album cover to class. You get the picture.

My high school BFF visited with her daughter, who was quickly recruited to join the MJ team. The four kids rehearsed and made us wait in the bathroom. When we came out, they played the “Beat It” video on the computer, with First Son, Wonder Twin Girl, and BFF daughter taking turns as MJ, while Boy Wonder Twin played the main villain by going shirtless under a winter parka and wearing a headband.

I mentioned how when BFF was turning ten, she hosted a slumber birthday party where we played “Beat It” over and over again. I still remember her standing on the couch and striking out her arms to beat of each bell in the beginning of the song. (Doesn’t sound so cool when I say “bell,” does it. But what the heck is that instrument then?) She has no memory of that night, so couldn’t appreciate the full-circle-ness of the moment. I had just moved to our town that year, so for me, it was probably more striking…or maybe her memory is just a piece of sh*t.

HA HA

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