CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE FACT THAT MICHAEL COULD MAKE A CUTE COUPLE EVEN WITH HIS MOTHER IN LAW
by Nate Giorgio
When we went to restaurants, people would get up and leave, so they wouldn’t have to sit anywhere near me. Even in church, no one would shake my hand.
Panic spread all over town. Lots of times kids flattened themselves against walls when I walked by. I heard kids telling Ryan White jokes. And grown people passed along lies about how they’d seen me biting people, or spitting on vegetables at the grocery store. I never did and I never would.
When I finally did get back into class, after a judge said the school was wrong, an awful lot of people still wanted me gone.
….AIDS can destroy a family if you let it but luckily for my sister and me, Mom taught us to keep going. She said, ‘Don’t give up, be proud of who you are and never feel sorry for yourself.’
…The one day Michael Jackson called me. Wow! I didn’t know why he had, except maybe because he’s from Indiana too. He was in his car, he said.
“If I lose you, man, I’ll call you back,” he told me.
So I told him what I was doing, what movies I’d seen, what school was like, how John and I had been window-shopping for stereo – stuff I’d talk about to anyone. I said I was playing his albums.
I liked “Man In The Mirror” the best. Michael’s not flaky or weird, like you read in those newspapers you can buy in the supermarket. He’s real quiet and softspoken. Sometimes he takes a while to say things. He’s just kind of gentle and peaceful. He was a nice new friend for me to have. “Next time you’re in L.A., we’ll get together and have some good old fun,” he told me. Well, I couldn’t wait.
…On the day we were going to spend with Michael, a limo picked up Mom, Andrea, Heather, and me very early at our hotel. After we climbed in, we were told that we couldn’t take any cameras with us because we weren’t allowed to take pictures. About three hours later, about ten in the morning, we drove up to the entrance of Neverland, Michael’s ranch.
Michael was wearing black pants and a red and black jacket and a black hat. He always wears my favourite colours. He showed us around the main house. Just like me, his dream is to have kids, so the house had a bedroom for a little boy and one for a little girl, plus a playroom with all kinds of toys and arts and crafts – even a miniature merrygo-round.
At lunch – chicken, corn on the cob, and pumpkin pie – we met Michael’s monkeys. His famous one, Bubbles, wasn’t there, but the others made up for him. They all wore diapers and T-shirts in different colours. They have their own babysitters, and they go to school every day to learn manners. Their manners were pretty good! They hoped around and played with our shoelaces while we ate. Every now and again Michael fed them a treat. I never wanted to say goodbye to them.
I felt very comfortable around Michael because I could see he was just as shy as I am. He seemed like a regular person to me. I certainly could relax with him.
….At lunch there was juice and Pepsi. Mom asked if there was any Coke. Then she remembered Michael’s Pepsi commercial. She really thought she’d blown it.
Michael smiled. He knew what she was thinking. He said that Mom was just like his mother. So Mom got up the nerve to ask a mom-type question. “Michael,” she said, “is it true that you sleep in an oxygen tank?” That’s something the tabloids have said about him.
Michael laughed. “Now Jeanne,” he said, “You know all the stuff that’s been written about you and Ryan.”
“Oh gosh,” Mom said. “I understand!”
…After lunch Michael asked me if I’d like to ride around part of the ranch in his fourwheeler. “Yeah!” I said. Andrea was going to try his trampoline, and Heather and Mom were checking out his outdoor hot tub that had a video screen on one side.
Michael and I set out over the ranch’s dirt roads. I was at the wheel and he rode in the back. I took off and Michael yelled, “Slow down, Ryan!” After we’d gone a few miles he asked me if I could find my way back to the house.
“Sure,” I said. I listed a few landmarks.
“Good for you!” Michael said. “But now let me drive!”
…When we caught up with Mom and the girls it was getting late. We had homemade pizza for supper, and then it was time for us to drive back to L.A. I told Michael that I really, really wanted a photo of us together. So he sent someone out for a Polaroid camera, and drove down with us to the ranch’s entrance. Mom got some good shots, and then we said goodbye.
…As the limo headed for the highway, Heather covered her face with her hands, shook her hair back and forth, and started laughing and laughing and laughing. “I just can’t believe it! I just can’t believe it!” she cried. “We spend the day with Michael Jackson. I can’t believe we were with Michael Jackson.”
On bad days I had to rely on the phone for social life. Michael called to say he was busy working on an album. “We’ve got to get together and goof off again,” Michael said. He wanted to know if I could come back out to the ranch after Christmas.
Well, when Michael invites you, you don’t say maybe. Dr. Kleiman knew I wanted to keep going, and that trips to California kept me going. I could count on him to get me on that plane. So I told Michael, “You can bet on it.”
…The drive took about three hours. The limo dropped me off at Bungalow Three for the rest. Michael said, “See you at seven.” That was suppertime. I was worried. My stomach ached and I was having cramps. I called Mom.
“I shouldn’t have come,” I told her. “I don’t want to be sick here with Michael.”
“Well, you haven’t eaten in a while,” Mom pointed out. I usually needed at least a snack every couple of hours or so. She said, “Why don’t you see how you feel after supper?”
I took a nap and went up to the main house for supper – chicken, beer ribs, and baked potatoes. Then Michael and I went to his private theatre and watched two and a half hours of Three Stooges reruns. We ate popcorn from the theatre’s own machine, and had pizza delivered from the house. I felt a lot better and had a great time. Now I was glad I had come.
…”I like your jacket,” Michael told me, “but I want you to have a heavier one.” So the two of us drove to a nearby town in Michael’s Bentley… The best part was, the man in the shop didn’t believe that Michael and his credit card were for real! Michael gave him the ranch’s security number, and he called to clear the card and the doublecheck that Michael was who he said he was.
…I was very happy that dinner turned out to be tacos. Afterward I showed Michael a video that Mom, Andrea, and I had made for him of our whole house – every room, every poster and decoration we have on the walls.. “When you come to visit now,” I told him, “you’ll know your way around our house.”
…The night we watched the new Indiana Jones movie, The Last Crusade. How lucky can you get, I thought. The lines were too long to get in at home, but I was getting a private screening.
…The next day Michael had business meetings. When Michael was free, we went back to town to pick out some presents for Mom and Andrea. I got Mom a great big Santa, and magic stuff for Andrea.
..At dinner on New Year’s Eve, Michael gave me a wonderful watch. It chimes every hour and has a builtin alarm. It tells you the day of the week, the date, the month, and the year.
“Thanks!” I said.
“I have to leave early tomorrow – before you go,” Michael said. “I’m sorry I won’t be around. And I’m sorry I don’t have the autographed photo you wanted. But I’ll mail it to you.”
When we hugged goodbye, Michael said, “Never give up. Do it for me.”
… New Year’s Day: my last day at the ranch. I played with Max, one of Michael’s pet monkeys. I was glad to see him again, and he was glad to see my shoelaces. I puckered up for a kiss, and Max gave me a big one.
I called Mom to tell her I was on my way home.
“There’s a big box at the ranch entrance for me to take home,” I told her. “It’s driving me crazy. What do you think it is?”
It was a whole new stereo system and disc changer. A few days later I got a photo of Michael signed, “To Ryan.” He was wearing red, black, and white. Thanks, Michael!
…For the next week Ryan remained unconscious, in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Riley Hospital. Dr. Kleiman told Jeanne he was sure Ryan was not in pain. But Ryan’s chances of pulling through, he said, were only ten percent. (…)
When Michael Jackson called, he would have two minutes to speak. “Ryan,” Elton John said, “you can’t turn down a superstar like this. I’m grade B compared to Michael.” He held the phone to Ryan’s ear so Michael could encourage him. (…)
At about one o’clock Sunday morning, Michael Jackson called again from Atlantic City. When Jeanne told him Ryan was not expected to live, Michael declared he was flying to Indianapolis right away.
… Ryan is dying. “I feel terrible,” he says. About 1 A.M. on Sunday, Jeanne takes a call at Ryan’s bedside from longtime family friend Michael Jackson. Michael bought Ryan a red Mustang about a year ago, and the Whites have been frequent guests at his California ranch.
Michael wants to come that minute. He is in Atlantic City.
“How long will it take you, Michael?,” she asks. Jeanne looks at a nurse wearing goggles. “Two hours?” she asks the nurse.
The nurse shakes her head.
“Michael, don’t come, honey. Ryan isn’t expected to last two hours. We know how much you love him.” Jackson says he’ll be there in-the morning, and he is.
As soon as Michael Jackson arrived, he went straight to the Whites’ home in Cicero. He was very upset that he hadn’t gotten there before Ryan died. He went up to Ryan’s room, which was full of his collections, posters, and souvenirs, including his director’s chair from the movie set. In the closet was the heavy new leather jacket Michael had wanted him to wear.
Michael sat quietly looking at everything for a long time. Jeanne offered him anything he liked there as a keepsake, but he asked her to leave Ryan’s room just as it was.
In the Whites’ front yard sat the red Mustang Michael had given Ryan. Now it was covered with flowers and Easter eggs, gifts from children. Andrea took Michael out to show him the car and they sat in together. When Michael turned on the CD player, Ryan’s favourite song, Michael’s “Man In The Mirror,” began to play. Michael smiled proudly. He knew it must have been the last song Ryan had played.
… Ryan died at 7:11 A.M. on April 8, 1990. It was Palm Sunday.
Thank you Bonnie. ♥