Tuesday, June 25, 2013

One degree of separation

Tonight at dinner, all of us, but especially our son, got to hear an amazing story.

An old friend and her fiance were over to share a meal at our house of Ethiopian food.  It was his first time having it, and I was so happy every time I saw him reach and reach and reach for bite after bite of injera with about seven kinds of 'wots'.

As we were finishing up and getting ready to go for a walk, our friend started to tell us a story about when she worked at Disneyland in the early '90s.  She was a host on the Fantasyland ride, the one you enter via boat through the huge gaping mouth of a whale.  It was a packed day at the park with every boat full, and she was baffled when a group of only three people were allowed on her boat which usually holds many more.  The group on her boat was a man, a woman, and a child.

She sat next to the man who was dressed in dark glasses and a baseball cap.  He had a goatee.  He was soft-spoken and chatted with her about her job.  She told him a story about she'd fallen off the boat and into the water the day before.  All three on her boat were friendly and quiet.

When the ride was over, he waved at her, smiled, and called her by name to tell her goodbye, even though he'd only heard her name once.  She called her manager on her headset to ask what that was all about, why these three people had been allowed on the ride by themselves on such a busy day.

It turns out the soft-spoken man was Michael Jackson.  He was there with friends in disguise so they could enjoy the park anonymously.  She'd had not the slightest clue who it was.  She caught a glimpse of him walking away and immediately saw the truth based on his body shape and the cadence to his walk. She admitted that she was glad she hadn't known who he was because she certainly would have acted differently.

As our friend told this story tonight at dinner, my son sat at the other end of our dining room table with his thumb in his mouth, eyes completely bugged out.  He smiled and smiled.  He blinked hard.  He'd look from her to me, then to his dad, then back to her, smiling, eyes huge.

How silly is it that I felt thrilled for him to have heard this first-hand story about one of his heroes?  My husband and I watched transfixed as his daughter publicly mourned him at his funeral.  Our son was too small to remember, but he was with us in the room.  I couldn't stop crying and eventually "unfriended" people on fb for making snide, tasteless jokes about him.  Say what you will about the man, I have always loved Michael Jackson and do so even more now that he is this special to my son. 

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