In the car, Sophia mentioned that they'd been learning about figurative language at school. "And we've been listening to Michael Jackson songs because of the figurative language."
I thought about this a moment, trying to consider what songs that would be. I frankly don't know many Michael Jackson songs, so I inquired further: "Why Michael Jackson?"
"Mr. Rouse went there this weekend. That's why he wasn't here Monday, he was visiting his family and went to visit Michael Jackson's home."
Mr. Rouse is her assistant teacher, who has essentially taken over the older children as his responsibility (3rd-5th grade, while Miss Anne has the first and second graders--this does work out numbers-wise, by the way). Mr. Rouse is this rather shy unassuming character, seems incredibly patient and wise and funny and once again, another awesome teacher at my daughters' school (c'mon kindergarten....don't fail me now). Anyway, the idea that first of all, he went all the way to California for a weekend seemed a bit far-fetched considering that spring break is coming up so soon. Maybe a wedding to attend? I thought. But even stranger, the idea that on a three day weekend to visit family in California, he spent time at Neverland Ranch.
Is Neverland Ranch even open to the public? He just doesn't strike me as the sort to go there. I thought these things in the amount of time it took me to make a left turn across traffic on Grand, and I glanced back at Sophia, who, in perfect dyslexic style (according to the psychologist who tested her), doesn't think anything is strange about what she's just said. She's humming and looking out the window.
"Mr. Rouse went to Neverland Ranch where Michael Jackson lived?" I ask for clarification. "The man who sang Thriller and Beat It?"
Then she gets that look, that furrowed brow confused look. "No. The man who sang Hunk of Burning Love."
"That makes more sense," I say with great relief. A trip to Graceland while visiting relatives in Tennessee on a 3 day weekend doesn't seem at all strange to me. I don't know why--I haven't ever been to Graceland myself, and I don't know many people who have, but maybe it just sounds kitschy and fun while Neverland Ranch sounds downright creepy and pathological. Maybe time after his death will make it less so.
"What else did you listen to?"
"Oh, a couple other songs."
"Are You Lonesome Tonight?"
"Return to Sender? Suspicious Minds? Kentucky Rain?"
"No," she giggled. "He sang a lot of songs!"
I guess he did. I'm glad she got to hear some. And I'm glad for a lot of other things.