(That’s not incorrect grammar in the title of this article; it’s literary license!)

Michael Jackson and his siblings grew up as Jehovah’s Witnesses, at least sort of.  So did I.  So I started comparing my life with his.  We started at the same place, and ended up in very different places.  Who did better?  I decided to keep score:

 Tough, authoritarian parenting was the norm.  Michael, one; John, one.

 Michael grew up on music; I grew up without music.  My father was protecting me from people like Michael.  No telling what I might do under their influence:  grow my hair longer??  Michael, 1000; John, zero.

We had to perform to win approval.  Michael, one; John, one.

 We both went on stage, Michael to earn fame and fortune, me to win approval of the church authorities.  Michael, 10,000; John, one.

 We both needed to win the approval of our parents.  Michael, one; John, one.

 We had no clue how to manage our money.  We either didn’t have financial statements, or didn’t know how to read them.  Probably not enough interest to learn either.  .  In my family, we didn’t even know what a financial statement looked like.  Michael, one; John, one. 

 I knew when I was broke.  Michael didn’t.  Michael, zero; John, one.

 With regard to our sexual development, I would guess Michael lost his virginity before I did.  Hell, everybody lost their virginity before I did!  At the age of 23, I married the only girl I had ever kissed.  We were both virgins.  I don’t know why she got married, but I got married because I just thought that’s what you should do when you were 23.  If you waited much longer, people might start to wonder about you.  Wonder what?  I didn’t know.  It was just time.  It wasn’t even about sex.  I was so sexually repressed, I didn’t even know what I was missing.  Michael, 2500; John, one.

 Michael lost the favor of the church; I went to the church headquarters and rose in the church hierarchy.  Michael, 2500; John, one.

 We both left the church.  Michael, one; John, one.

 Michael got involved in sex scandals; nobody cared what I did.  Michael, -2500, John, one.

 Michael was extremely handsome when very young, and then got weirder looking as he aged.  I was weird looking as a nerd before that was chic, and the wrinkles now camouflage the nerdiness satisfactorily.  Nobody could be a nerd at my age.  Michael, one; John, one.

 Michael went to a plastic surgeon more often than I did.   Michael, -2500; John, one.

 Michael had more “friends” than I did.  In the end, we probably had about the same number of real friends.  Michael, one; John, one.

 We both have known money problems.  Michael’s money problems had more zeros on them.  Michael, one; John, one.

 We both had unsuccessful marriages.  Michael, one; John, one.

 Tens of millions grieve Michael’s premature death, but far more than that don’t even know that I am alive and grateful for every minute of it!  Michael, 5,000; John, Priceless.

 Moral of the Story:  Better a live dog than a dead lion.  Better yet, become financially literate, and turn your  dog days into a lion’s pride.  Having too little money has some things in common with having too much money; either way, if your money is bigger than you are, you will lose it.  We all need financial literacy!

Thanks for listening in.  Come back again! John Bechtel


  1. Gayle McCurdy says:

    Enjoyed your humorous analysis of similarity and yet differences.

  2. Diane Marei says:

    Great article John! Remember when Michael came to take a tour of the factory and everyone stopped and admired him as he walked along. Next day we all got disciplined at breakfast for “idolizing” him!

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