In 1987, nothing said celebrity like Michael Jackson.
The King of Pop owned the music business and he could do no wrong.
I was 26, a new father and still searching for a direction in life. Since I was a salesman, I often had time on my hands between appointments.
It just so happened I was in Hollywood, and decided to kill time at a used bookstore on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard, near Highland Avenue.
I walked inside and the place seemed empty except for the large goon standing at the end of one of the rows. The fact he was there made me curious. I walked to the other end of the row and made my way back toward the front of the bookstore, when I noticed a man lying on his side on the floor.
The first thing I saw was a combination of black shoes and white socks. I looked closer and realized the man was Michael Jackson.
“Hey what are you looking at?” I said.
“Books about Disney,” he said.
Jackson had one opened that had pictures of the rides at Disneyland.
“Nothing about music?”
“Nope, I’m really interested in Disney,” Jackson said as he scooped up a stack of about five books and headed for the counter.
He pulled out a credit card to pay. I asked for an autograph.
“Sure. You got something to write on?”
I pulled out my wallet and searched for a blank piece of paper. A business card. Anything.
I flipped through the plastic picture holder and stopped at a photo of my infant son, Alex.
“I can sign the back of that,” Jackson said, whipping out a red pen, then scribbling his name. “Nice looking child.”
At that he got the credit card receipt and walked out to the street, where a small, blue Volkswagon was waiting. Jacko and the big guy climbed in and drove off.
Sometimes when I tell the story, people ask, “Did he have a high, squeaky voice. I say I don’t remember.
When they ask “was he wearing a glove?” I give the same response.
Somewhere along the line I lost the wallet, the photo and the autograph. Maybe it would have been a hot property years later when allegations of child molestation were leveled at Jackson.
But then again, maybe not.
The bookstore is gone. The Kodak Theater is there now, and a mall. Whatever character Hollywood had in the mid-80s is mostly gone too.
Now Michael Jackson is a ghost as well.