Jewish World Review Nov. 27, 2002 / 22 Kislev, 5763

Jeff Kramer

Jeff Kramer
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Consumer Reports

Every good dad
is a thriller | Everyone needs to BACK OFF the King of Pop. Dangling an infant off a fourth-floor balcony might look dangerous, but it isn't. It's good family fun and an excellent tool for teaching spatial relationships.

Now obviously, dropping a child off a building can be hazardous, particularly if the child isn't wearing a helmet.

But merely suspending Prince Michael Jackson from four floors - as Jacko did the other day at a Berlin hotel - is no riskier than the games I play at home with my 2 1/2-year-old daughter. By those I mean wholesome "skill-builders" such as "Apprentice Electrician" and "What's in the Garbage Disposal?"

It's not as if Michael didn't use safeguards. Even if he'd accidentally retracted his progeny extension nodules and dropped the baby, hundreds of people were positioned to catch it. We should note that these were not normal people like you or me (OK, you), who might hesitate to interfere with natural selection in this case.

No, these were genuine international Michael Jackson fans, most of whom have been waiting their entire international lives to catch a King of Pop fly from a multistory building. They love Michael. They feel a special connection to Michael's sensitive spirit. They don't even care that Michael murdered his chimp Bubbles (my opinion) and sells fewer records these days than the Electric Light Orchestra.

Speaking of which, anyone up for a Jacko/ELO collaborative Christmas album?

I turn to stone.

Where is my nose?

Can't feel my lips

Where have they gone?

Maybe not.

But my point is that even if Prince Michael had fallen, it would have been like landing on a bed of goose feathers - perfect preparation for being goosed by Dad.

What's really going on here? Why is the entire planet, including Saddam, condemning Michael's parenting?

My first instinct is to blame racism, but since nobody - least of all Michael Jackson - knows what race he is, let's try again.

I believe Michael is the victim of the bias that dads play too rough with their kids.

I experienced this stereotype personally this week during "Monday Night Football" when I successfully used my daughter, Miranda, as a football to help her grasp the complexities of the sport.

It was all very safe and educational. We stood facing the big screen, and each time the ball was snapped, I hiked Miranda off the floor and either dropped back to pass her or handed her off to a "running back," depending on the play.

Miranda shrieked with delight, and I'm proud to say I completed her six of nine times for 149 yards.

Only when my wife, Leigh, barged into the room dispensing maximum-strength Responsibility Beams did Miranda's enthusiasm wane.

It's so damn unfair.

Jacko, if you're reading this, we need to stand strong. We're good dads. Really. If your schedule allows it, I'd like to meet you face-to- uh, well, you know, to discuss heightening public awareness of rough play bias (RPB).

JWR contributor Jeff Kramer is a humor columnist based at the Orange County Register. Comment by clicking here.

© 2002, Orange County Register