The conversation with Michael Jackson lasted about an hour.
In 1992, I was working in The Sharper Image in Beverly Hills located on 1550 Santa Monica Blvd.
As one of the managers, I got there early in the morning to meet with employees and get ready for the day.
After I unlocked all the doors, I headed for backroom to oversee the days shipments.
One of our sales people came to me and said..."Did you know Michael Jackson was in the store?"
Hmmm...There was only one customer out front when I walked through after opening the doors. He was sitting at the piano we had on display. I remembered he had a surgical mask on.
At that time Michael had just started wearing a mask. So it wasn't something I would think was unusual or think it was Michael.
I turned around and headed for the showroom. There he was checking out a Indian headdress. The only person with him was an elderly fellow that reminded me of an English butler.
Since it was so early on a weekday morning, there were no other customers in the store.
Michael turned my direction as I walked up and said "hello".
He pulled down the mask and flashed one of his smiles then in a quiet whisper asked, "Is this made by real Indians?"
I wasn't expecting that question and it made me laugh. "Well...I'm not 100 percent sure but I can check on that for you."
Taking my time, I took a better look at him and could see he looked very pale, sort of a translucent pink. Dressed all in black with a hat to match. Other than that he seemed normal, but my thought was that it was like talking with a big kid in a candy store.
The Sharper Image was full of interesting toys, signed mementos (like Mohammad Ali's boxing gloves), the newest gadgets and odd things for rich clients to buy.I loved working here because everyday was different and the clients were a blend of superstars, rich people and foreign tourists.
Michael excitedly walked around for over an hour with me asking for demos or just chatting about all the fun items in the store. He was having a blast trying the things out.
One item he was enthralled with was Wake The Wizard (a plastic globe with a wizard inside). "What does it do?" he whispered.
"Well....you wave your hand over the top of the globe after you ask him a question" I replied.
"Ask it a question" he instructed me.
Hmmm..just what do I ask the wizard spur of the moment in front of Michael Jackson?
Without much thought I asked the wizard, "Will I be rich and famous?" as I waved my hand over the top of the globe.
"NO...it is not in the cards!" Said the wizard in an eerie voice.
We were both surprised and Michael started laughing and I did too.
"I'll take 5 of those wizards!!" he said.
He spent time examining a clock from Germany and loved the yellow bird that popped out on the hour.
Along with a 10 Indian headdresses, 5 Wake The Wizards and the clock, my salespeople carefully wrapped them up in our big glossy red signature bags w/ gray tissue paper.
Once they were all done...he thanked me for taking time to help him and was out the door with the English butler.
His limo was parked a few doors down the street. Our display windows were a mirror finish on the outside. Michael couldn't resist catching his reflection as he moon-walked backward to the car. How cool was that!
It was an awesome sight to see him do that in person and I feel sad that I won't see him again. He was like a child genius that never grew up and so polite.
It's taken me a day to process that he's gone. There will be no more new dance music or Michael Jackson sightings. I wanted to write down my memory of him. I haven't wanted to cry until now. The emptiness is real...he touched millions of people with his life.
He was a real person and such a sweet spirit. What a legend...one that won't be replaced. R.I.P
P.S. Here's a link to Michael's last performance at the staples Center in LA on Wednesday night as he prepared for his London Tour.
Exclusive video : This Is It Tour - Rehearsals & Auditions (Michael Jackson & his dancers) Wouldn't it be nice to see this tour of dancers go forward with his music and the whole show intact? People would still pay to see it.
Read this LA Times story on Michael Jackson's early years that may have had a big inpact on why he felt the need to change his features so he could be loved by people.