Imagine my surprise and delight when I entered the facility, where the Mall of America now stands, and saw the singer standing alone in a hallway. I got to speak with Michael Jackson!
“Um … ” my editor said when I told him about this later.
Gently, since he didn’t want to run roughshod on my youthful ebullience, he asked me to consider whether that had not been Jackson, but perhaps a professional impersonator or amateur imitator.
Neither of us could verify this, long after the concert had wrapped up, and I initially felt a surge of outrage that my editor would doubt me. But then I did a mental reboot and went over everything that had happened to test all of my earlier observations and assumptions.
Clearly, if the pop king had been careless enough to stand by himself out in the open, he would have been mobbed by fans. The Jackson-like individual had been all but ignored, except for a couple of other … suckers.
These were the days before the mainstream Internet and its social-media channels, so this embarrassment stayed between my editor and me. I don’t think I have ever discussed this publicly until now.
Fast-forward a bunch of years. As a fledgling writer for my newspaper’s now-defunct tech section, I wrote a column expressing annoyance that Apple did not drop prices on certain of its Macs to low, low levels.
We were now in the early days of the public World Wide Web, and the online version of my column drew immediate, incendiary ridicule.
I was mocked, endlessly, for thinking that Apple could wave a magic wand and price Macs at any level it pleased. I was lambasted for ignoring the fact that computer-part prices can only go so low, and therefore collectively determine how affordable a Mac or a PC can be.
The pricing I sought was simply impossible. This was made abundantly, painfully clear to me.
Again, I initially felt anger and stubbornness at being criticized in this way. But, again, I reset my brain, went over my earlier line of reasoning, and came to the realization that I was a barkin’ lunatic.
My next column was a detailed mea culpa that made me writhe with discomfort, but was a necessity, an imperative. I had been an ass. I needed to own up.
OK, so why am I telling you all this?
Oh, no reason.