"Daddy," I said during a Sunday drive in 1970, "Don't you like this song?"
"Sounds nice," he answered. "But who's the little girl singing it?"
At thirteen, I thought that was hysterical... that my Daddy couldn't tell that the Jackson Five was a "boy band." I had Tiger Beat pictures of Michael (right beside Donny Osmond) wallpapering my bedroom. And my first slow dances with boys were awkwardly carried out to "just call my name...and I'll be there..."
I choreographed a middle school dance routine to "The Love You Save" and performed it for the neighbors (I charged a nickel) at our talent shows in the 'hood. Years later, Off the Wall would be the soundtrack for my first year teaching - "I Want to Rock with You" could be heard reverberating up and down the halls of that high school.
That's what Michael Jackson was...before the odd behavior, before the Neverland Ranch and the monkey and the hyperbaric chamber....when he was just little Michael singing "ABC," that's what he was....smooth. And, in some ways, he was a teacher. Who hasn't tried to do the moonwalk? Who hasn't held a hairbrush as a would-be microphone and belted out, "Billie Jean is not my lover..."?