Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Flame On!

It isn't often I discover that I have something in common with a celebrity-besides the usual things like being an air breather and vulnerable to high speed bullets, you know, stuff like that-but I find it compelling that I now have something unique in common with the legendary King of Pop, Michael Jackson himself. (And with absolutely no disrespect to anyone else who's been in this crazy situation.)

A few weeks ago, Wednesday, March 26 to be precise, I went with a friend to an evening function at the swanky Larios Café here in Madrid, Spain called "Art and Business". We thought it would be educational. After receiving wrist bands at the entrance, and a comp for a free drink (which turned out to be a thimble full of beer or sangria) we stood at the bar as people were just arriving. (The function was to start at 9:30 pm, but, being Spain, that meant it would start about 11.)

As people started to arrive (around 9:45) I'd only been there less than five minutes and tried to get comfortable at the bar-where there were candelabras spaced out atop the bar. As my friend swigged his beer, I heard a woman gasp loudly. I turned to see a group of people staring and pointing at me. I noticed something bright out of the corner of my eye and suddenly someone behind me started hitting me on the head with a sweater or some sort of clothing. I ducked down and reached for my head and felt searing heat. It turned out I had backed too close to one of the candelabras and my hair caught fire. I quickly began brushing my hair with my hands and felt my hair easily breaking off and watched it crumble from my head onto the floor.

It took about four seconds, maybe a hair less (pun intended) for the top right side of my hair to burn almost to my scalp. Once the flame was out, I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror to see thick smoke wafting up from my head and a deep, wide crevice in the right side of my hair. For those who don't know me, I had a funky fro, sort of in the style of Gary Dourdan's from CSI but with the amount of a young Michael Jackson, but not quite as much as he had in The Jackson Five. So, if you can imagine that much hair burning almost to my scalp that fast...that's gotta be a few inches. Luckily, thanks to the person behind me, the flame didn't reach my scalp, which is why I had no idea my hair was on fire, so I wasn't in any pain and my hair will grow back-eventually. But it was enough that I've been upset for the last few weeks, and will be for a while. (Hey, women liked my hair-and so did I.) Now I've taken to wearing a baseball cap when I go out, something I haven't done in over a decade. And now that the weather in Spain is almost summer like, it means dealing with a sweaty head when I go out while I try to encourage my hair to grow with...hair stuff. And if you've ever smelt burning hair, especially your own, it can be pretty sickening.

Now, whenever I look at the video of Michael Jackson's Pepsi Challenge, all I can think of is 'Of all the things to have in common with someone famous, let alone one of my idols, it has to be that'. (However, I guess it would be worse if I was accused of child molesting.)

And for all the comic book fan boys who are all bent out of shape because a black man will be playing the Human Torch in the next Fantastic Four film, get over it. I already played him-sort of. But it wasn't as much fun as I thought it would be.