The Breakable Man in the Mirror

No Telling

(This is the first picture in a Time photo essay called “Young Michael Jackson at Home.” Just click on the picture to view the rest of the series.)

I’m really not sure what to say. Most of us mourned the loss of Michael Jackson years ago. I’m sure the boy in the picture is, in fact, the Man in the Mirror, forever twelve, always a Lost Boy.

Whatever horrifying things he did or did not do to himself and others, he’s left behind a mind-boggling body of work. He’s also left behind three children, and whether my criticism is deserving or not, it’s possible those kids have been given a gift through the painful loss of their father. I hope they go to their grandmother and that she lives forever.

I flipped through the channels tonight and the tube is heavy with retrospectives and tributes. There’s a combination of fascination and profound sadness when I see these video clips. That’s not new, though. Something about Michael Jackson has always made me feel a little sad, even when he was a little boy. Even as a sometimes-ridiculous grown man he always seemed afraid, breakable.

In addition to the old video clips there are also legions of talking heads whipping up the frenzied fans like a never-ending opening act. Everyone has something to say whether or not they have anything to say, and they say it over and over again. See? I’m even blogging about it and I’m not anybody.

At the end of the day, toxicology reports will all come in, folks will point fingers, others will make a fortune from misfortune, and the rest of us will catch “A-B-C” on geezer radio stations as we drive to work and tap the steering wheel while we sing along. Just as we always have.


No Telling

Well, I’ve been on Ebay again. And look what I found…this is a tee-ninsy woman’s address book – just 1 3/4″ by 2 1/2″. It literally fits in the palm of my hand and is so shiny/classy I almost feel like a dimestore starlet. The button beside the letters slides up and down, and when I push the little cigarette case-like button on the bottom the book opens up to just that page. This little address-keeper has no scribbling in it whatsover, and a 1955 calendar on the back of each page. An unwanted gift, maybe, from a beau she didn’t love. Or the one who couldn’t buy her something better.

His name might have been Roger, or Jim, or Richard – nothing dashing enough, really, for her to write in the little book. Maybe the gift was a disappointment, a decision made, not enough. After she left him outside the door, she may have tucked it away in a scarf drawer with the other almost-but-not-quite things from perfectly nice gentlemen who wore the wrong hats or didn’t quite manage to shine their shoes. Another trinket from a fellow working behind a counter instead of a desk.
I’m sure he knew she was too good for him. He knew when she opened the box.
And he was such a nice one, too. Awfully sweet. That’s why she didn’t have the heart to throw it away or fill it up with other men’s addresses. It’s a heavy guilt saying no to a worthy man who falls short in ways you’re ashamed to admit matter. But they did matter.
Oh my.
It’s mine now – the address book and the story. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter – it’s true enough.