Eric Alterman: "Me and MJ" (Michael Jackson)





Me and MJ: Well I guess this is the week to tell your "When I Met Michael" stories. I got closer to Michael than almost anyone, to tell you the truth, or at least closer than most people of the age of consent. In fact, it would be impossible to have been closer to Michael with clothes on than I was, especially since the guy had such a phobia of people and their germs. Well, Michael got my germs. Here's how. The night before the Clinton inauguration, I was invited backstage at the big concert at the Capitol Center, where Jackson and a bunch of other big stars performed. When it was over, and everyone was standing around, Clinton came by to say hello to the talent. (He was particularly taken by Kenny G at the time, as I recall.) Anyway, MJ, as he is now called, was wearing that insane Sergeant Pepper outfit of his and when Clinton and the secret service came down the narrow corridor where everyone was standing around, I was (rather rudely) pushed directly into Michael and held there by the Secret Service guy until the president got done saying "hello" to everyone, which in Clinton's case takes a really long time.

I can't say I enjoyed it. Michael's skin was gray; a color I had never seen on a person before. His nose looked like it belong on a baby piglet. And he was clearly not in the mood for an extended body slam from yours truly, as I was already past thirty at the time. I don't remember if we actually exchanged any words afterward. Despite Michael's undoubted horror, he was pleasant about the whole thing. My guess is that it made no impression on him at all. That's it.



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