Friday, July 22, 2011

As Long As You Love Me And Have The Right Stuff, We'll Keep Comin' Back Again

I was so stoked to pretend to be twelve years old again as I attended the July 20th show of the NKOTBSB tours. If you missed that whole era or if you live under a rock, the concert is a tour combining two of the most popular Boy Bands of the 1990s. New Kids On The Block were incredibly popular around my kindergarten years and Backstreet was a fixture of my middle school, early high school years. The music was simple and catchy, rhyming "heart", "apart", "girl", and "world", and the boys were handsome.

And I was in the middle of the the firestorm: Posters, T-shirts, Dolls, Cassette Tapes (Wait. What's a Cassette Tape?") I was convinced that this was what love was; Five Boys serenading you and telling you that they would wipe away your tears and "I'll Never Make You Cry." It all seems sort of embarrassing now, but in truth I still blush at some of the thoughts I had. But the BSB were a big part of my childhood.

You see, there were five best friends growing up: 2 Emilys, 2 Christinas, and Me. There are usually five members in a boy band. We were best friends and each girl had her own specific boy. The girl's personality tended to line up with the personality of said boy band member. Mine was Howie (and he's still the hottest). And the idea, was to claim your boy member, collect posters and trade for others. That Math was simple. As 2Gether (a tongue in cheek boy band from the 90s) once said U + ME =US.

I have so many fond memories of the summer of 1998. I was getting ready to start High School. Emily A's family had a pool and we would watch TRL with Carson Daly in the afternoons, lounge about and eat sandwiches and chips. And the five of us would talk about the Backstreet Boys. I mean...occasionally we talked about other things...but the conversation invariably came back to who we were going to be when we grew up and married our respective BSB. Because that was just the way it was and the way we knew it would be. So we would lay on our floats, put lemon-juice in our hair, and drink our Capri Suns and daydream.

We were just a bunch of Summertime Girls....wearing Abercrombie & Fitch.

Sleepovers came and went. Years passed. Some got married. Some had kids. One is a pharmacist. Another girl teaches band. I'm still sort of bohemian transient with a nice collection of designer shoes. Distance has mostly kept us apart. But the tour brought some of us back together. We made a pledge to go see them, actually almost ten years to the day we saw them last time.

We made our way to the convention center and suddenly we time traveled. And there, all around, were groups of women...some a little older from the New Kids Generation, those of us a bit younger who were teens during the Backstreet Boys. They were dressed in their old New Kids Gear form the 80s. Some wore side ponytails or Chuck Taylors.

Emily A made the poignant observation that the biggest difference between this concert and our first in 1998 was the lack of our mothers and the fact that we could now drink beer. This thought excited me momentarily, but I didn't feel like fighting the lines. Then Emily K. also pointed out that the price of concert shirts had risen almost 20 dollars. I bought one anyway.

The show itself was a blast. One of the New Kids rightly pointed out that there were two generations of people there and for some, they had time-traveled to 1989. Others, like my friends and I, we had made our way back to 1999. And for us, we were again 13 years old and super excited to be breathing the same oxygen as the Boys. In front of us sat a mother with her two daughters. Hilariously, the girls were wearing Justin Bieber shirts. Whenever Donnie Wahlberg sang, the woman would leap to her feet and begin yelling. Her daughters looked at her with a mix of horror and amusement, as if to say "Mom?." Maybe they were struck with the sudden realization that "Mom" was a person once, a teenager who sat in her room with tape player, dreaming about the day she was gonna meet Donnie Wahlberg and he was gonna pull her on stage at a concert and serenade her.

One of my co-workers asked me why I would want to see middle-aged men dancing and thrusting like they were still 18. "Isn't that depressing?" he asked. I disagreed. There were women all over, just like us, who do the daily grind and maybe have forgotten who they were at a young age. They are now "Mom", or a professional, or both. And just for one night, they could remember who they were and hopefully carry a bit of that kid with them for another day. So no...I didn't find it sad at all.

After the show, I walked out on my own as my friends decided to leave to go back to their normal jobs and their spouses. I decided that I needed to do something I had always wanted to do. I made my way behind the coliseum and crawled through a large shrub. I could have taken the side walk around, but that seemed like I wasn't trying hard enough.

I finally came upon the Mecca. The tour bus. I knew that some of the members had already left....but I knew that little girl I used to be (had she had a parent willing to wait after the show) would have stood out there for a days if she had the option. So I waited and waited, and when I had given up hope.

Brian came out. Now there was a huge gate between us so the only photo I captured was of his leg...but after a moment of walking his mother to her car... he came over to the group of about 10 of us waiting.

And he said "Hello."

I said "Thank you for the great show and the memories."

He may have not heard me over the chirping of the other girls. But he smiled and said he loved us and waved goodbye! And then disappeared.

I felt ecstatically happy for a moment, then a minute of sadness. I missed my younger self. But I do think she would have been extremely happy to know that while she didn't get to marry a Backstreet Boy...she would get to meet one up close and personal after years of seeing them at events across the way. So I walked back to grab a taxi, smiling and for a minute I could visualize my 13 year old self jumping up and down in my room at the thought of the idea.

Plus I haven't quite given up on Howie, just yet...

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