It was back when he wasn’t too big a deal. After the Jackson 5 had kind of cooled off and before Michael’s career as a solo artist really took off. It must have been 1974.
My family was on vacation at Disney World, we were staying in the Royal Palace Hotel. Michael and at least some of his brothers were also staying there. We wouls see them by the pool. One evening my sister and I, being bored with the pool, ventured into the game room to see what was going on. This was before video games, so about all there were pinball machines and a Foosball table.
There were a few other kids around. All of us wet from the pool and undoubtedly overstimulated from our day at the theme park. There was one kid who was taller than the rest of us, other than that, he seemed just like the rest of us. Just another kid passing some time in the game room with the other kids. He asked if anybody wanted to play Foosball.
Several of us gathered around and we played a couple of games. Nothing special. I knew who he was. I’d seen him on TV and even had a couple of his records. One kid did ask if he was Michael Jackson, he said yes, and everyone left it at that. I think it was because we were in the realm of kids. You know, away from adults, going by the unspoken, but well understood rules, of kids gathered together. We were playing and that’s all.
After a couple of games, Michael left. He thanked us for playing with him and he was off.
Nothing was said among us kids after he left. We just kept playing Foosball.
Not long after this Michael Jackson would become the pop icon everybody is remembering today. All the fame, all the craziness, an existence beyond the imagining of most of us.
I was only a casual fan of his music. I appreciate good pop, but it’s just not my thing. When I would see him on television, especially in recent years, with all the surgery, all the strangeness, I would wonder what exactly happened. He really was, at least sometimes, very much like a normal person once.
Today I’m remebering the kid I played foosball with. He was alright.