By the end of that day, several kids started approaching me asking me about my famous cousins, the Jackson 5!
The first kid who approached me I thought, “Ha. Ha! Nice joke.”
The second kid to approach me I thought. “Strange. What’s up?”
By the tenth kid, I knew that I was in deep trouble from a public relation point of view. These kids actually believed the sarcastic joke! Knowing what I know now, I realize that the initial question was asked innocently by eleven year old girls and the joking response was lost on innocent ears because why wouldn’t an 11 year old girl not believe it? All of the evidence was right there, as far as they were concerned. My last name was Jackson and I was black, and I underestimated the power and speed of gossip.
Back then, I should have just went back to Amy and Jill, and come clean by telling them, “Hey, I was just joking about the whole Jackson 5 thing.” But I didn’t. I didn’t know how to go back and undo this gigantic thing that had taken on a life of its own. Would everyone hate me afterwards? Would I lose the friends who didn’t seem to care about the whole Jackson 5 life?
I was turning 12 and during that time, feeling acceptance was important to me and that is probably the truth of why I didn’t confess. In fact, as I look back at all of those years during grade school, Jr. high and High school, feeling accepted was something rooted in me, probably because I was so different than everyone else. I assumed that by Jr. High, and certainly by High school, that everyone had figured out that it wasn’t true but I never uttered another word about it because I didn’t want to open up a can of worms. And to this day, I feel kind of crappy that it ever happened.
I wonder what my Mom would say if she knew this story?