I don’t know where we were; it seemed like the eatery area of a shopping mall; but I was with Jamel when I saw him. “That’s Stevie Wonder,” I said aloud as I approached him. He looked skinnier and younger than he is in real life, but, at first sight, I was convinced it was him.
He was standing behind a counter like a cashier would if it really were a shopping mall as I greeted him hand to hand; something I almost certainly wouldn’t have done in real life. He had a big smile on his face; I remember his sunglasses and dreadlocks; as I showered him with praise.
I was like a typical zealous fan, telling him how much of a “legend” he was, and he seemed to appreciate it. That is until I told him, rather Jamel and the sparse spread of strangers around us, that he was “one of the big three”, listed the order and pointed out that he was “number two”.
I meant it as a compliment, meaning that, in some hyperbolic blarneying 1980s-throwback way, he was the second best or at least biggest music icon in the world, but he seemed to take it as a bit of a gibe as if I was emphasizing the fact that he wasn’t the best.
I started with number three; Prince; then named himself as number two as he continued to smile. It’s not until I apologized to “Mister Wonder”; something else I probably wouldn’t have done in real life; and said that Michael Jackson was number one that he seemed to take umbrage.
Perhaps it was the way the people around us; I remember unwittingly standing in the way of a freakishly tall guy after all this; reacted when I said it, like the crowd at a rap battle when one rapper lands a devastating insult to his opponent, that made Stevie jump to his own defense.
He wasn’t actually angry or upset, at least he didn’t seem to be, but neither was he smiling as big as he’d been until then. I don’t even remember what he said, but the gist was less how dare I say he’s not the best and more a stern declaration that he is, indeed, the best.
I mentioned what I probably wouldn’t have done in real life and I doubt Stevie Wonder would’ve really argued with me even if he disagreed. He seems humble enough and he and Michael Jackson were Good Friends, so he probably would’ve just laughed or made a joke about it.
2021 ( July 19 )