From Andrew Losowsky, Huffington Post: Carrie Fisher knows that, when her time comes, her obituary will read "Princess Leia Is Dead." She's written a number of frank and funny books about struggling with the legacy of the metal bikini - along with her drug and alcohol addictions (now in remission), her bipolar disorder, her disfunctional and famous parents, and more. One of her books became the movie "Postcards from the Edge," while another, "Wishful Drinking," became a Broadway show. In her latest book, "Shockaholic" (Simon and Schuster, $22), she talks about her regular use of electro-convulsive therapy to combat depression, her encounter with an offensively rude Ted Kennedy and, in this exclusive excerpt, what happened when she spent Christmas with Michael Jackson - which turned out to be his last.
Michael’s celebrity turned many people into eager, greedy stargazers who only wanted something from him above and beyond what a normal human is willing or expected to give. They were there for the anecdote. It’s what I call the “shine.” People want to rub up against it, and in so doing, their own value is increased. But I’d like to propose a reason why Michael might’ve preferred the company of children to what I’ve heard referred to as adults.
Kids of a certain age, being too young to understand the peculiar phenomenon of fame, are potentially easier to trust and hang out with than a certain kind of adult, who, as I said earlier, more often than not have a tendency to start acting completely disorganized around someone as outrageously famous as Michael. And children are far less likely to act this way because they don’t exactly know what fame is yet. To them, famous is cartoon characters, or Muppets, or Barney. It’s too abstract a concept for kids.
On Christmas Eve 2008—Michael’s last—I went over to his house, which is located just down the hill from me and a few blocks over. He was giving his children the childhood that he never had. A childhood outside of celebrity with people who didn’t objectify them. Because normally, for Michael, life was like being an animal at the zoo. An endangered species forever behind bars. I could get in the cage with Michael and not get freaked out, and there weren’t that many people who would’ve known how to, or known that it was even something they might actually be required to do when with him. But I did.
So I joined Michael after hours at his zoo. We took pictures and ate cookies and decorated the tree.
And then, to change it up, Michael asked me to do the Star Wars hologram speech for his kids. I didn’t mind. Someone actually had to remind me what a big Star Wars fan Michael was.
While I was there, though, we weren’t really experiencing the situation for the most part, we were taking pictures of it. Arnie took pictures of me and Michael and the kids, and I took pictures of Arnie and his friends and the Michael family package. My favorite was taking a picture of Michael reading my book "Wishful Drinking."
I will always cherish that weird Christmas configuration of ours. Looking back, it was as if Michael didn’t know how to just be in a situation without recording it on a camera. The thing is, he was just so used to being documented. But the main reason the documentation came up this time was mostly for Arnie’s friends, who wanted to take pictures of their meeting with Michael so they could carry his shine around. The encounter elevated them. It became, “Oh, I had Christmas Eve dinner with Michael Jackson. What did you do?” Anyway, we all f*cked around holiday style and having fun, and it was fun. We took pictures, we acted childish (at least I think that’s what it was). At some point, Michael said, “Okay, I’m letting you take my kids’ pictures because I know that you won’t show them to anyone because you know I don’t want anyone to see my children.”
He wanted his children to be as unrecorded as possible. If the Africans believe that you lose a piece of your soul each time you have your picture taken, then Michael hadn’t had one for a very long time. But he was trying to arrange things so that his kids could keep theirs. And his children are very sweet, good children. And that’s because whatever else he was or wasn’t, I think Michael was a really good father. I mean, his children are kind, really polite, even-tempered, and essentially unspoiled kids. And that can’t come from a nanny. You can’t fake that stuff. It has to come from the parent. And that parent was Michael.
From SHOCKAHOLIC by Carrie Fisher. Copyright 2011 by Deliquesce Inc. Reprinted with permission from Simon & Schuster, Inc.
CORRECTION: We originally stated that Carrie Fisher was "in relapse" for drugs and alcohol abuse. Thankfully, we meant "remission." The error has now been corrected.