Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

For this child of the 80s, Michael Jackson was the Thriller, not the freak show that emerged over the last few decades.

His sudden death yesterday brought to mind a personal encounter with the King of Pop.

Ye socks will have to flash back to the summer of 1991, when yours truly was interning with the Walt Disney World College Program and working at the Kodak camera shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

This was in the pre-digital era, so park goers would drop off their rolls of film to be developed, and I would hand them a little claim ticket with their name written on it.

Anyway, the encounter occurred one rainy afternoon about 3 o'clock. The daily parade was making its way down Main Street, which meant our store was completely empty of guests. That's when a figure clad in a yellow hooded rain slicker approached my counter to claim his photos, and the name on his claim ticket said "Michael Jackson."

I made some sort of remark at that, "Oh, like the Thriller?"

"JUST like that," he replied as he pulled the hood away from his face.

Yep, that's right. It was Jacko!

I didn't know what to do or say as he perused his snapshots. For once in my life, I was completely speechless.

Anyway, one of his "handlers" paid me for the photos, and he turned to go back to the parade with a wave of his (ungloved) hand and the admonition, "Have a magical day!"

When I looked down at the counter, Michael had left one of the photos. It was a shot of him with McCauley Culkin and Mickey Mouse, almost a foreshadowing of all the crap that would come in the not so distant future.

When I flipped over the picture, I saw MJ had autographed it for me as a memento of our brief encounter.

I ran across that photo last year while I was packing up to move from Apopka to College Park. So, I know it's around my house somewhere. I'm gonna have to do some searching for it over the weekend . . .

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