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The End of an Era

You know, I'm not one of those people who gets bugged out by celebrities. After all, I've worked in the entertainment industry most of my adult life. Even though I haven't everyone I'd like to yet, I've been fortunate enough to meet some of the ones who've gone on before -- Luther Vandross, Gerald Levert, Aaliyah, to name a few. Unfortunately for me, that list does not include Michael Jackson. And now, thanks to his untimely death at the tender age of 50, I never will.

I am so hurt by Michael's death, and I couldn't figure out why. Then I started reminiscing about my first encounters with his music...

Because my mother wasn't a fan of the Jackson 5 -- don't ask me why -- their music wasn't in my house. Marvin Gaye, yes. Curtis Mayfield, yes. The O'Jays, The Spinners, Gladys Knight & The Pips? Yes, yes, yes. We even had Natalie Cole and The Emotions. But no Jackson 5. When I was in the third grade, my teacher, Mrs. Heldt, would let us listen to music if we finished our work early. And that, my friend, is where I discovered the amazing voice of Michael Jackson. Although I liked ABC, my favorite was The Love You Save. I worked like a Trojan everyday just so I could put on a pair of headphones and listen to this little boy who couldn't have been too much older than me sing his heart out.

To say I was hooked would be an understatement. I began to search for this elusive boy wonder. Of course, by 1979, he was a grown man. My first true album experience with him was Off the Wall. When my mom went to the hospital to have my brother, I stayed with my uncle and his family. My cousin had just copped the new MJ album, and it was awesome. We put it on while we played and sang and had a good time.

By the time Thriller came out, I was 13-years-old and more than ready to embrace all that Michael had to offer. My stepfather brought the album home, and I wore it out. It was so bad that the liner notes -- complete with the lyrics -- was falling apart in a matter of months. I loved all thing Michael at that point. While I wasn't fortunate enough to have the red jacket, I did have a glove and some glitter socks. (Besides, I really wanted the white jacket worn by the rival gang leader in the Beat It video.)

Of course, like everything in childhood, my love for Michael waned -- especially when New Edition came out. It wasn't that I didn't love him anymore, but with him being so much older than me, I realized that a romance was impossible. Don't get me wrong -- I still loved his music. Remember the Time came out when I'm in college, and I still love that song.

Over the years, Michael's interesting way of life tainted the squeaky-clean image he had when I was a kid. Even still, I loved him. As for the molestation situation, I'll say this. I don't know what he did, but I blame the parents who let their children stay with him more than I blame him. How stupid are you to let your baby boy stay with a grown stranger?

Fast forward to June 25th. I was coming home from breakfast with my boyfriend when I got an email saying that Michael Jackson had suffered a heart attack. After that, I turned on the television and my computer to see if it was true. Naturally, it was devastating to me when it was confirmed. And I'm still devastated.

I think my friend, Tikia, said it best when she said that MJ's death signifies the end of our childhood. R.I.P to both my innocence and Michael Jackson.


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