michael in japan for smapxsmap, 2006
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La Toya Jackson’s autobiography, 1990
“While in New York we had a very strange experience. I enjoyed playing practical jokes on Michael, just as he did on me. One evening I attended some function with Dick Gregory, and Michael stayed home to relax watching television. He became absorbed in a Twilight Zone episode about a man who loses his identity. Everyone he thinks he knows treats him like a total stranger, until he begins questioning whether he exists at all. For some reason this story made an impression on Michael, blessed with an active imagination. At the same moment I was inserting the key into the door of our apartment, he was sitting in front of the TV asking himself, Who am I? Am I really real?
Why I did this, I don’t know, but on the spur of the moment I pretended I didn’t recognize Michael, staring at him blank-faced and asking, “Who are you? And what are you doing in my house?”
Michael jumped on the sofa, aghast. “What do you mean? I’m Mike!”
“But who are you?”
“But who are you?” I asked him over and over again.
“Don’t do this to me, La Toya!” he pleaded.
I burst out laughing. “I’m just kidding, you creep,” I said, wondering why he looked so agitated.
“No, you don’t understand.” He gulped for air. “I saw this Twilight Zone episode where a guy loses his identity. And I said to myself, ‘If La Toya comes in here and asks me who I am, I am going to die.’ You almost gave me a heart attack.”