One of the greatest classes I ever took in High School was English Literature. It was great, on so many levels, because Mr. Lawton made it great. He pushed us to learn. I was never into literature, in fact I hated it. English Literature was a class that only the nerds would take. So, why would I ever enroll in it? I had no choice, my guidance councilor told me I had to. In addition to reading some of the great works of Literature, we were also required to memorize a soliloquy from a Shakespeare piece. I chose one from Macbeth that partly read,
“And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
I was never the college type. I barely made it through High School. High School was just a big popularity contest, and I always subscribed to the theory that “popularity breeds content”. So not my thing. But, after a forceful arm twisting I enrolled in the local Community College. I was reunited with my High School English Lit teacher, Mr. Charles Lawton.
This was the first time that I started to take education seriously. I wanted to do well in class, for him. In doing so, I was clearly the winner. I did very well in that class. Actually, it was the only class that I excelled in. After three semesters I decided to join the Navy, College was just not my bag. But, before I left I wanted to say goodbye to my English teacher, Mr. Lawton. I tried to find him in his office at the College. He was not there. I went to my old High School, and I was sadly told that Mr. Lawton died from complications from Lung Cancer.
I was devastated!!
I tried so hard not to cry. It was not a manly thing to do, to cry. So I ran off to my car, started it up and “Dangerous” by Michael Jackson was the song playing on the radio. This was my first experience with death, and it was bad. Mr. Lawton was the only teacher I ever had, that truly cared about his students learning. Which is something that is lacking in many institutions of learning.
A month later, while working a lousy factory job at a jewelry company, I received the news that my Grandmother had passed away. My Grandmother was my life, and she too died from Cancer. I knew she was going to die, but the news still hit me hard. I took a few days off of work to attend the wake and Funeral. Upon returning to work I had my employer ask me for a copy of my Grandmothers death certificate. I was shocked. Did they think I would lie that my Grandma, who I adored, died so I can get three days off? I told them I quit, and called my Father to pick me up. When my Father showed up, the song playing on the radio was “Dangerous” by Michael Jackson.
My father wasn’t a really big Michael Jackson fan, but he always felt the need to tell me how significant MJ was to breaking down the barriers of race in this Country. “Son, he was the first black to have his videos aired on MTV!” The stories went on and on, but Michael Jackson would always be linked with death to me.
As the years went by, I became very reflective. I was craving all the nostalgia from the 70’s and 80’s. One day, while I was channel surfing, I stumbled upon the Michael Jackson video, “Billie Jean” on VH-1 Classic. I had a really bad case of goose bumps. I was immediately sent back to 1983. Michael Jackson was to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards, and everyone in school was staying up to see it.
I was in the sixth grade, and all anyone could talk about was Michael Jackson, the girls anyway. Us, men, were preoccupied in looking cool. It was very annoying, and I refuse to jump on the bandwagon!!!
Well, I had to see what all the hype was about. So, after violating my bedtime, 9 pm., I stayed up and quietly turned on the television. It was 11 pm, and there he was, Michael Jackson doing the “Moonwalk” on stage. He was also wearing the glove. I was shocked, and totally blown away. The next day, at school, all the girls were going nuts. That was the first time that I wanted to be a super star. I wanted to receive all the attention that M.J. was getting.
Oh, by the way, I looked exactly like him. And, the girls knew it.
The following year, we moved to an all white neighborhood. I attended an all white school. And, it was a very difficult adjustment, to say the least. I was adorned by the girls, and loathed by the boys. I would receive constant attention. It was what I thought I always wanted, but I was incredibly shy. And, I had a hard time dealing with it. The girls would come over my house. I was 12 years old, and had no clue about how fun girls were. That would be when I was 14, but Michael Jackson wasn’t popular anymore.
My first love was Kelly Brooks. She meant the world to me, and I payed her back by ignoring her. One thing that stood out to me was that she would always wave to me, and made me feel like a rock star. We use to sit together in lunch, and I did really like her. One day, when she waved to me, I turned to one of my friends and said, “I wish she would just stop waving to me.” We spent the next 5 years ignoring each other. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. Every time I think of her I revert back to the Macbeth soliloquy. Translated it means
“How the days stretched out – each one the same as the one before, and they would continue to do so, tediously, until the end of history. And every day we have lived has been the last day of some other fool’s life, each day a dot of candle-light showing him the way to his death-bed. Blow the short candle out: life was no more than a walking shadow – a poor actor – who goes through all the emotions in one hour on the stage and then bows out. It was a story told by an idiot, full of noise and passion, but meaningless.”
And then the news of Michael Jackson dying. Rather than think about the two songs associated with death, I was reminded of “Billie Jean”. I wasn’t reminded of the freak, that was Michael Jackson. I was not reminded of all the freakish, circus sideshows of the man’s life. I simply was reminded of the song that gave me goosebumps, and reminded me of the girl that I let slip away by ignoring her.
I am simply the idiot, living in the world full of noise.