I eat clean — vegetarian, organic — but once a year I have to have — I MUST HAVE — a McDonald’s cheeseburger with a small order of fries. The craving is an unstoppable force, a primal urge. The junk food arches of gold. But it’s also how I met Michael Jackson.
Years ago when I lived in Japan, I was walking home to my apartment in Harajuku. I passed the McDonald’s on the corner as I always did, and kept on going. But before I realized it, my feet had made a U-turn. I was heading back up Omotesando-dori and into McDonald’s. Today was the day to succumb to the urge.
Waiting in line at “Makudo” was a group of early 20-ish Black folk. When I lived in Tokyo, I so seldom saw My People that I would cross the street to introduce myself. Here I was, standing in line at Mickey D’s.
“Hi, I’m Liz from Cleveland.”
My folks introduced themselves as singers and dancers with the Michael Jackson “Bad” tour. Wha—!!! The sold out stadium event! The world wide opening in Japan! I felt cool by association. We scarfed down our McMeals, and the next thing I knew they offered me two VIP passes to see the show. The cheeseburger gods were smiling on me.
I invited a friend to the show, and we munched at the buffet for staff and performers. And VIPs. Like me. Grazing at the buffet was Sheryl Crow before she was SHERYL CROW. She was touring with Michael Jackson to sing one song. One song.
The show was about to begin, so I grabbed my seat. As a VIP, I had a perfect up close view of the show. Until Konishiki, the rock-star famous 600+ pound sumo wrestler, sat down in front of me. My unobstructed view was blocked. But as an American sumo wrestler breaking all kinds of barriers, Konishiki was the dude. There are VIPs and then there are cheeseburger VIPs…
The show began with pyrotechnics and excitement. I couldn’t see squat. So I moved from the VIP seats to the front of the stadium for an up close and personal view of Michael. I was singing and dancing and enjoying the show. No Jumbotron for me.
At one point Michael jumped off the stage and ran through the stadium crowd. Japan being Japan and not the US, he wasn’t mobbed, mauled or denuded by his fans. As he was running back to the stage, he passed me, stopped, turned around and walked back. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Hello.”
I was transfixed. I remember thinking that he looked like me when I had on my ballet stage makeup. After The Moment, he ran back to the stage to resume the show. I was reduced to a screaming cliché of a rabid fan. MICHAEL!
Remembering Michael Jackson on his birthday.