What a deadly week this has been for celebrities, eh?
I've not been inclined to comment on the deaths of various of them, but the deaths in a few days of several cultural icons seemed oddly bookendish, to me. Ed McMahon will of course be forever associated with a golden period in which Johnny Carson held court over the television thrall. When people think of Johnny Carson, at least those who knew of him in living memory, they'll remember Ed saying "Heeeeeere's Johnny!"
Likewise, Farrah was the definitive swimsuit pinup of the 20th century. Although starlets had let their little lights shine previously (Carole Lombard, for one, and decades prior), the Farrah era marked the emergence of the nipple into polite society. Frankly, it's nice that a woman doesn't have to be uptight about such things. Someone I know *ahem* has the sort which would still show even if she wore a brassiere fabricated from composition shingles (or steel pro-panel), so it's kind of nice to not feel like that's something to be embarrassed about. I mean it must be nice. Um. For her.
Then there's Michael Jackson. What an odd duck. The question to me is are we all products of the age in which we live, or is the age a reflection of us? I knew of MJ all along, of course, but in his heyday I was lurking in import record stores and seeking out new music and new civilizations. MJ never really did it for me. I concede he was a masterful hoofer, and some of his music was quite catchy, but it never thrilled me much. Other than the 45 rpm recording of Ben my mom got me when I was a wee lass, I've never owned any of his stuff. I have largely held that cultural eruptions like Jackson mania and the like are a rather unfortunately shared cultural phenomenon, but not truly reflective of the mind of everyone. *shrug* That's not my culture and heritage. I do have one mortifying MJ-related story, though.
Two weeks before my Senior prom in 1984, my very first boyfriend broke up with me. Looking back, he was not the one for me for a host of reasons, but him breaking up with me before the big dance seemed a very nasty thing to do. He was not a local, though, so I knew he wouldn't be there with someone else, either. I knew prom wouldn't be a romantic experience for me. Other kids had family rent hotel suites so the kids could hang out and (one presumes) not get killed by drunk drivers or by driving drunk. I would not have been one of those in a million years. I would be home by midnight. Sober. Not having smoked, dipped or chewed. I did still want to go to the dance, though.
I worked with a guy at Winn-Dixie who seemed harmless but kind of cool. His father owned a tuxedo rental place, so I figured he could arrange for attire easily enough. I told him I was going punk to the prom and asked him if he'd go with me, and he said yes. I went to a fabric store and bought a leopard print t-shirt knit and made a simple dolman-sleeved dress with a V in back that plunged nearly to, uh, my crack.
*Gawd, I just said "my crack" on my blog. Heavens to Betsy*
So, yeah. I wore some zebra-print shoes and a double-wrap red leather belt with spikes and studs and I went punk to the prom in all my mulleted splendour.
Can you believe I'm revealing this without having had a drop to drink? I can't. I'll probably come to my senses and delete this post by lunchtime.
Anyhoo, I can't remember the kid's name, but that was the only time we went out. He showed up at my door-- I'm not making this up-- dressed as Michael Jackson. Black high-water pants exposing sparkly socks, red vinyl jacket with all the zips, and (chagrin!) I think he actually had one sequined glove.
I'm not kidding.
All the meringued beauties from my class in their taffeta and froufrou fairly bawled "SHE RUINED OUR PROM!"
I was so punk rock. I could feel the withering stare from the eyes of the frouffy set as I danced and danced. I had a great time. I had a better time than I would have had with that silly boyfriend.
I'll never forget the surreal moment when I realized "sweet shivering shiva, I'm dancing to JUMP by Van Halen with a guy dressed as and dancing like Michael Jackson." I was grinning hard. It was cornier than Beaulah the cow's shit, but I danced anyway. He was a good dancer, actually, and had the moves down. I was secretly horrified that he was pegging the cheese-meter, but in for a penny, in for a pound. I danced on, as fast as I could, or at least until the coach nearly turned into a pumpkin. Meanwhile those snotty asshats were dissolving in the acid of their own simpering venom from the sidelines.
That fall I was beyond caring about the distant past of high school and all that, but I did collect the yearbook I'd ordered the previous fall. The largest photo in the book said "[My Name] punks out at prom." I briefly considered the idea that this photo, me kicking up my heels, would be a thorn in the side of the killjoy clone-tarts from high school. Yeah, that year I didn't care, but this year, it makes me chuckle.
bEat it, bitches!