Our ad agency had a very attractive receptionist. Actually, we had a series of very attractive receptionists. Call us shallow, but advertising is supposed to be a glamorous business and nothing says glamour better than being greeted by a beautiful woman. (No, I don’t buy into today’s politically-correct bullshit that says fat and ugly is just as good as athletic and gorgeous.)
One day this particular receptionist came into my office and shut the door behind her.
”Can I ask for your advice about something?” she asked.
Of course, the concept of asking me for advice about anything is relatively ludicrous, which meant this poor woman was clearly desperate.
For example, a dear friend of ours lost his wonderful wife. He began dating again a couple years later and called our house early on a Sunday morning. Jamie answered the phone. ”Can I speak to Jim,” he asked. ”I need some relationship advice.”
”Oh, my god,” she responded. ”I’m really worried about you. Anyone who needs to speak to Jim for relationship advice is really in bad shape.”
She handed me the phone and cackled all the way down the hallway.
But back to our advice-seeking receptionist. I knew she had two young boys and was recently divorced from her doctor husband.
”Did you know that my ex-husband is one of Michael Jackson’s doctors?”
”No, I didn’t,” I admitted.
”Well, my home phone rang the other night. I answered and the voice on the other end said, ’Hi, this is Michael Jackson.’ I thought it was a practical joke so I said, ’If you’re Michael Jackson, you should recognize this. And then I sang, ‘Beat it!’ and hung up.”
”That’s pretty funny,” I said appreciatively.
”I thought so, but my ex-husband called me the next day and he was furious.”
”Michael Jackson just told me that he called the house last night and you hung up on him. How dare you hang up on Michael Jackson?”
“I thought it was a practical joke. Maybe you should have warned me he was going to call the house before he did it. And besides, why was Michael Jackson calling me?”
”He wasn’t calling you. He wanted to speak to the boys.”
”Why was he calling the boys? How does he even know them?”
”He met them at my office,” he fumed. “He’s a very important patient of mine so please be nice to him and don’t hang up on him if he calls again.”
That night Michael Jackson called her house again. Our receptionist apologized to him and explained that she thought his first call has been a practical joke.
”So here’s where I need advice,” she explained to me. ”He’s invited my boys (ages approximately 7 and 10, as I recall) to spend the night at his Neverland Ranch. They’re very excited about it. Do you think I should let them go?”
Now this was long before all the stories about Michael Jackson and little boys came out, so there was no clearcut reason why they shouldn’t go, but she was feeling a bit uneasy about the situation.
”Absolutely not,” I advised. ”There’s something really wrong with that guy. For god’s sake, he took a chimpanzee named Bubbles to the Emmy Awards. That’s just not normal. If I had kids I wouldn’t leave them alone with that guy.”
She appreciated my opinion and went back to our lobby to think it over. The next day she came back into my office again to discuss the next chapter of the saga.
”Michael Jackson called again last night. He asked me again for permission to take the boys to his ranch overnight.”
”What did you say?” I asked in horror.
”I told him I would rather have him come to our house and we could all have a slumber party. Much to my surprise, he said, ‘That sounds fun.’ So Michael Jackson is spending the night at my house on Saturday.”
“Brilliant,” I told her. ”You can keep a close eye on him while he’s with your kids. Let me know how it works out.”
Bright and early Monday morning she came back into my office with a big smile on her face. ”It worked out perfectly. He got to the house about six o’clock. I cooked dinner. I’d gone out and bought onesies for the boys and a matching pair for myself. Michael and the kids and I played Monopoly and when we got tired we all slept in sleeping bags on my living room floor.”
”Genius,” I told her. ”Great solution.”
”The next morning,” she continued, ”all the neighborhood kids were out in the street playing football. Michael looked at me and said, ”Is it ok if I go out in the street to play football with the kids?”
”Sure,” I told him. ”Just don’t get hurt.
“So Michael Jackson, the biggest star in the world, went out in the street in front of my house and played football with all the neighborhood kids.”
”A limo came to pick him up a couple hours later, but before he left he came to me and said, ”Thank you so much. I’ve never played football before because I was always working when I was a kid. I never really had a childhood.”
”That’s a very sweet story,” I replied. ”Does that mean you’ll let the boys spend the night at Neverland now?”
”No way,” she said. ”There’s something really wrong with that guy.”
Good decision. It was not too much later that all the stories about Michael’s ”relationships” started coming out. Turns out he loved to play games with little boys, but none of them were Monopoly or football.
COMING NEXT WEEK: Another One Degree of Separation from Michael Jackson story.