About two years ago, Michael visited the National Museum of the American Indian with his children. It was one of those days at my job where I came to work with one purpose, and ended up witnessing something I never thought I would see. We were supposed to have a meeting about promoting our Smithsonian Memberships, and then I noticed there was way more security than usual in the hallway outside our Resource Center. So I asked our security guard, "Okay, who is the famous person visiting today?" He looked straight ahead and muttered, "Michael Jackson".
Wha? Really? No waaaaaaayyyy....
But then my friend Sharyl walked in front of me with Michael and his children, and showed them our Windows on Collection exhibit. I only saw the back of Michael, who was about 20 feet away from me, as he looked at our beautiful beadwork exhibit. I didn't want to interrupt their museum experience, and over the years I've realized that famous people want to check out our museums just like everyone else. Angelina Jolie came to Air and Space with her kids, First Lady Laura Bush had her birthday party at NMAI, and even Pearl Jam stopped by during the opening of the museum. I even met the Chancellor of Austria once. He emailed his kids from the Resource Center.
Later, Sharyl told me she taught Michael how to dance Yup'ik style, while one of our membership people hoped Michael would donate a lot of money to the museum.
It must not have been easy being Michael Jackson. Everyone wants your money, your time, and your attention. But what I remember most about looking at that family on that day, was his daughter Paris. She was about 9 at the time, had long brown hair, and was wearing a pink shirt, jeans, and sneakers. She looked like a regular kid. She could've gotten lost in the crowd of the thousands of visitors we had every day.
Just a regular kid.
Of course, I immediately emailed and texted everyone I knew. And the response was the same. Yep, he's an oddity.... but he's also an icon.
So here's my favorite Michael Jackson song... this one never gets old for me.