The news, a three-word text message sent from my sister, chimed at me while I was crossing college ave, walking to my house with RG, who was in town to co-lead a workshop with me on the history of rhetoric.
It was appropriate for me to receive the news from my sister, because together she and I played, and played, and played our album Thriller, smearing our fingerprints all over its vast cover, the one with the angelic image--the back-lit, white-suited, jheri-curled, side-lying Michael on the front. RG's phone went off not long after that.
All weekend, then, I have been talking with workshop participants about the challenges of doing historical work in rhetoric with the insistent, dramatic lyrics of "Billie Jean" rolling through my head. That's the song of his that took hold of me. Images of ancient archeological sites competed with vastly more kinetic memories of sock-footed, locker-room moonwalks, the secret to which was taking all the weight off your sliding foot for that split-moment. The thrill of getting to fill in during my sister's practice of a dance routine to "Thriller" when one of the other cheerleaders couldn't make it. The fourteenth co birthday with hs bf A, which we celebrated by giving each other the same present: Jacksons' Victory Tour (the cassette version). Had I known on Friday night that one of our houseguests was in bed watching muted videos of Jackson, which sounded perfectly ghastly to me, I no doubt would have joined her.