I don’t think he was slow or anything; he was just strange. Very strange.
But as vigorously as we picked on him and teased him and made his life hell, we defended him. Strangely as it sounds, we would fight tooth and nail with anyone who dared disrespect him or raise a hand against him.
He was one of us, and any affront against him, any insult hurled at him, we took personal. Very personal. I guess in some idiosyncratic way you can say we loved Bud as best as little boys growing up among the filth and the funk of the ghetto could love and show affection.
For some reason, when I heard of the passing of Michael Jackson, Bud immediately came to mind. I guess our quirky relationship with Bud reminded me of the relationship the Black community has had with Michael Jackson for so long.
We loved him as we watched him grow up on stage performing with his brothers. We recognized the immensity of his talent even then. We loved him when he finally went solo. I still remember the debates over the identity of Billie Jean and just where that baby was.
We especially loved him when Thriller came out. Somehow we could just sense that he was changing the music industry, that he was taking over. And in the years that followed, we loved him even as he began altering his appearance to look less like us and began to exhibit stranger and stranger behavior. We were somewhat perturbed with him, but we loved him nonetheless.
And we stood with him when he was accused of the unthinkable. And we bore the jokes that arose, and sometimes we even participated by telling a few of them ourselves.
We dismissed the news that he was penniless and waited patiently for him to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and take over the world again. But I guess now that day will never come.
But we must remember that for whatever he was and whatever he wasn’t, he represented the best we have to offer. Perhaps we shall never know just how much talent he really possessed. But despite it all, because he was one of us we shall continue to love him for all that he has given us throughout the years.
And I leave you with Never Can Say Goodbye by the Jackson 5.