I was eight years old, and I could belt Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” at the top of my lungs word for word. Without a clue that it wasn’t even her original song, I vividly remember waiting to get picked up from school while singing it with my best friend. Not to mention some Belinda Carlisle and Tommy Page (“A Shoulder to Cry On” is our song).
Then one fateful day, my sister introduced me to them – New Kids on the Block. My sister is seven years older than me. So here I am, a bright-eyed 4th grader, and here’s my sister, in her prime in high school. Her fangirling and celebrity crushes definitely rubbed off on me – the likes of Michael J. Fox and Ricky Schroder. But NKOTB…oh, NKOTB. I remember the Hangin’ Tough cassette tape – the posters of Jordan and Jon. The Hangin’ Tough VHS. Jon and Donnie running through that New Orleans cemetery. They are the only ones who could make a cemetery sexy.
My mom was your typical strict Asian mother. It would be a cold day in hell if she ever let my sister, let alone me, go to a concert. So we watched them from afar. I daydreamed about my sister dating Jon, and me dating Jordan…Oh that Jordan Knight. With his rat tail and smooth falsetto. *swoon*
I quickly learned all the words to all the songs (even the more obscure ones like “Hold On”), and before long I had worn out the cassette tape, and my sister had moved on to other things.
Then came the ‘90s. And I entered my formidable pubescent years. Living in the Pacific Northwest, my longing to conform forced me into the world of grunge. I abandoned my first love, and joined the ranks of Nirvana, STP, and Pearl Jam fans in my flannel and Doc Martens. And NKOTB disbanded.
Flash forward 14 years. I hear that the New Kids on the Block had been on the Today Show. What?! The New Kids are getting back together? After all these years? Interesting, I thought to myself.
Without any way to record the event, I catch it later on YouTube. I watch the guys perform “The Right Stuff” and their new song “Summertime.” I call my sister: “Did you hear the New Kids got back together?” “No, really?” “Yeah, they were on the Today Show.” “And?” “They’re trying too hard.”
What?!?!?! What kind of a Blockhead are you?
I wasn’t one. I admit – I was not a Blockhead. At that moment in time, I was not. A couple years go by. I hear that the New Kids on the Block are touring with Backstreet Boys. That seems like an odd combination to me.
Then one day my co-worker stops by my office on her way out. “Have a good night!” she says. “I’m heading to the NKOTBSB concert! Woohoo!”
“What?” I ask her. A thought crosses my mind: I loved those guys back in the day. That would be a fun concert.
Realizing that I was at the time extremely pregnant, I acknowledge that it wouldn’t have been a good time for me to go anyway. Oh well, I’ll catch them next time around.
That night I go home, and on a whim decide to go to nkotb.com and sign up to be on their email list. I get notifications about merchandise and something called the Mixtape Festival that is way too far away for me anyway.
Then one day I get an email – New Kids on the Block Announce New Album and The Package Tour.
What?! They’ll be touring with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men??? Two bands that I loved in the ‘90s? Hell-to-the-Yes!
I immediately email my co-worker who had gone to the NKOTBSB concert and find two other co-workers to go with us. I immediately start YouTubing New Kids television appearances, music videos, fan-captured after parties.
And then something inside me clicks. It’s like a part of me is brought to life. I download their 2008 album and Jordan’s Unfinished album, I YouTube all their old concert videos, I order Coming Home, I kick myself for not knowing they were at the movie theater I ALWAYS GO TO for an exclusive screening of Coming Home ON MY BIRTHDAY, I die a bit inside knowing Jordan had a concert merely 2.5 hours away only two months ago. I get on Twitter and start following all of them, I voraciously read 5 Brothers and a Million Sisters, I join the Seattle Blockheads Facebook page and gush about how I long for a community to share this newly re-discovered love. I learn that Donnie divorced Kim Fey, I learn Joe has three cute kids, I learn Danny used to do something with private jetliners, I learn Jordan owns a gym in Rhode Island, I learn Jon’s boyfriend is a personal trainer. I get caught up on five years of lost time in a matter of one month.
The only justifiable reason that I can conjure up for missing the last five years and being so dumb as to not care when they got back together was divine intervention. Just after the New Kids got back together was when I got pregnant and subsequently had two kids. If I had re-discovered them again at that point in time, who knows what kind of conflict would have ensued? There would have been many-an argument with my husband and mother about “You can’t go on a New Kids cruise! You have a 3-month-old to think about!” (The conversation is much easier when your kids are at least eating solids.)
I get my tickets to the Package Tour. My friends are all making fun of me because I’m waiting with my finger on my mouse for AMEX Pre-Sale to start. I buy our tickets, and I am just completely giddy with excitement.
Over the course of the next few months, as I eagerly await the concert, I’m stuck in one of the most trying times in my personal and professional life. I cry almost every day. One day, I have a nervous breakdown in front of my kids, and my husband offers to take them out of the house for the day so I can have some time alone. I gather myself off the couch, drag myself into the shower, and turn on some music – New Kids on the Block, of course. Before I know it, I’m singing and dancing in the bathroom. The New Kids were my release, my escape, my solace. I love my husband, and he is the key reason I survived that time in my life. But at that moment in time, the New Kids may have saved my sanity. Standing in my bathroom with wet hair dripping down my back and Summertime blasting on my speakers, I thank them on Twitter, and know that they are something very special to me.
The Package Tour comes, and Donnie’s pledge resonates so hard with me. I avidly repeat after him and pledge to leave all the worries, drama, and fears behind me. For that night at least, we owned that night. The music starts, and the five silhouettes appear on stage. I jump up and the feeling that washes over me is unlike anything I had ever anticipated. I could literally feel the energy, love, excitement bubble up from my feet and fill my entire body, gushing out the top.
I jump up and down, scream, sing along, dance, and am entranced by these five guys. My girlfriends to the right of me may as well not have even been there because I am so razor focused on those five men on the stage. (Those girls don’t even know the words to their new songs anyway.)
Almost three hours later it’s over. And all I can do is watch my videos and follow the rest of their tour on YouTube and Twitter.
The cruise comes and goes, and even though I had told myself I was going to go as a reward to myself for all the crap I had gone through the last few months, when the time came, I couldn’t justify the required financial investment because of some money issues we were having. I of course live vicariously through Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to catch any morsel of the event that I could.
Then…the special announcement: Announcing New Kids on the Block After Dark – 4 days of special engagements in Las Vegas.
Aw Fuck Yeah.