Today is Michael Jackson’s birthday. I didn’t see this on a celebrity birthday list or on some random website today. I know this useless fact from memory, which amounts to more than twenty years of precious grey matter real estate wasted on a trivial piece of non-information. Why do I know that today is Michael Jackson’s birthday? I know because, like every other pre-teen in the early ’80s, I couldn’t listen to Thriller enough or learn enough details about Michael Jackson. That meant no end to watching every fluff-piece MTV could air. One of the details I learned was that his birthday is August 29th.
Like every other fact I ever encountered, his birthday should’ve bypassed my brain as it passed through my ears. It didn’t, and here is the embarrassing reason it didn’t. I was born in July, six weeks early. If my mom had carried me to term, her due date was August 29th. As a child obsessed with pop culture’s biggest star, I thought that would’ve been the height of cool. Michael Freaking Jackson! Instead, I share my birthday with Linda Ronstadt. That crushed my then pre-teen spirit.
Today, I can’t tell you which year Michael Jackson was born, and I’m as pleased as possible about that for someone who still remembers the day. But not knowing the year doesn’t mean this post doesn’t offer proof that we’re wise not to let children make meaningful decisions without some form of intelligent supervision. How many ten-year-olds would’ve written “Michael Jackson” on their presidential ballots in 1984?