Monday, October 6, 2008

Join Me in the Way Back Machine

I went to the New Kids on the Block concert last Saturday. That's right, I said it. And I didn't just go, I loved it. Thirty-thousand of us gathered together in the Allstate Arena, and agreed en masse to jump into the Way Back Machine. Mission accomplished. Not only did I regress to age twelve, I learned a few lessons along the way.

First of all, the guys who hated New Kids when I was a prepubescent fan still hate them. No one expects manly men to enjoy the sonic and choreographic stylings of five dudes obviously singing to chicks. I mean, I could understand and respect indifference to them, but the rabid fury NKOTB can inspire in the guys who remember the mania is just adorable.

I learned how it is that fanatic types can get so damn crazy and emotional when it comes to celebrities. I loved me some New Kids when I was a little girl, but I never saw them in concert or anything. I was just as happy to listen to my cassette tape and moon over my picture of Joey. But being in a stadium with so many screaming fans, along with my nostalgia, well, it got to me. I finally felt that crazed hysteria fans feel, and I liked it.

I left my seat to go to the bathroom and eat a pretzel. When I got back, I was stunned to discover the boys had materialized on a small rotating stage fifty feet from us. The slightly-tempered-by-time-yet-still-cute visages of my little-girl fantasies were close enough for me to look in astonishment at my friends, all screaming and covered with a slight sheen of sweat, and feel the need to ... scream like a girl.

To know me is to know that I cannot get my voice much higher than that of a sick cow bellowing in pain. I do not shriek, although I would love so much to be able to attain that high-pitched squeal so many females boast. Yet, I tried so hard. I screamed over and over, "Joey, I love you, you are so cute, ohmigod!" Am I ashamed? No. Hoarse? Quite. To top it off, they braved the crowd, weaving through the screeching masses on the floor. Such bravery. So valiant.

I'm not going to bore you all with the details, since I really only have a handful of female readers, and most of them were at the show with me. But I will say this: I never understood the silliness of fandom. I really never understood why women screamed and got all goofy at concerts, etc. But now I do. Those guys put on a show and a half, trotted out all of their classic hits, played fun songs from their new album, did costume changes, and danced their tuchases off. Donny even changed up his bald-spot covering Boston Red Socks hats for our collective viewing pleasure.

They had lights. They had sound. They had smoke machines, shirtlessness and Jumbotrons. They had back up singers, dancers and a little stage at the back of the stadium so the rest of us maniacs could get a closer look at their adorableness. They put on a kick ass show, and I will tell any haters that it was pure fun. Period.

We all collectively agreed to go back in time. To a time when hair was big, make-up was bold and the New Kids on the Block were a culmination of white-boy-falsetto-pop-soul, well-choreographed dance moves, cute faces and a perfect storm of merch. When I was twelve, life was only as difficult as my next math quiz or managing to not blush when my crush walked by me in the halls. When I was twelve, Joey McIntyre smiled at me from inside my locker door between classes. When I was twelve, I loved the New Kids, but I didn't really understand what it meant to be a crazy girl fan.

It took me long enough, but I jumped in the Way Back Machine with thirty-thousand other women who were kind enough to show me the way. Now I know.


Anonymous said...

Wow, 30 thousand people to see those guys. That isn't even the scariest part. Am I the only one that is absolutely frightened that these guys just materialized out of nowhere onto a rotating stage. I mean, if they can materialize on stages, whats to stop them from materializing anywhere? It is clear that us New Kids Haters are no longer safe. Our panic rooms will no longer protect us from the angry, untalented Walhberg brother. Hold on, something is wrong....oh no, they are here, tell my story!!

Nora said...

Wow, Mike. Are you implying that you think Mark Wahlberg IS talented?

I was scarfing down a pretzel when they materialized, but I imagine it was equal parts terrifying and titillating.

Luke Baggins said...

The Wahlbergs gave us Entourage which absolves them of pretty much any wrong-doing in my book. I remember feeling a visceral passionate hatred for those guys back in the day when my sister was 12 and I was 16, and I think you nailed it exactly as to why they inspire those feelings. They're a bunch of guys just singing to the girls. It's hard to pin down why that's so painfully offensive to a teenage boy, but it was. Another thing is that every note in every one of their songs hits you on the head with "If you're enjoying this, you're either a girl or a flaming homo!". At 16, there's pressure on guys to demonstrate that they're not gay which makes it impossible to sit still while your little sister listens to those guys or see any of their faces without a long string of cusswords shouted back. For me at 16, there was also the fact that I wanted to be a proper punk rock non-conformist and that meant that music wasn't supposed to be just for fun unless it was about violence or nuclear armageddon. These guys are totally unapologetic in their dancing and singing just for fun. Every punk rocker carries the shameful memory of a time when they listened to some pop music and just dug it. The New Kids would tug at that raw nerve.

Nora said...

That is a keen insight, Luke. For that I shall send you some fish crack. I'll need your address.

Anonymous said...

I read this story, and you might as well been speaking another language like martian.

I chalk this obsession with one of those things I would need a vagina to understand, like having a baby, or the whole cycle thing.

As long as you had a good time, that's all that matters.

Nora said...

That's the spirit, Rivs. I don't expect you to understand--I just figured it out myself. But your live and let live attitude is what it's all about!

Anonymous said...

Mark Walhberg is indeed talented. In The Departed, despite having a smaller role, he stole every scene he was in. Considering who he shared the screen with in that movie says a lot about his acting ability.

Slippy said...

Being one of the sweaty screaming girls with Nora. There is just no way for you boys to understand, but it was the perfect storm of thousands of women letting go of their adulthood and remembering what it was like to think anything was possible and damnit, I still am going to marry Donnie Wahlberg!

Nora - pictures should be coming tonight to add to the blog.

Anonymous said...

Though an interesting point was made to me by the fairer sex, as I was beating my chest caveman style saying I would never go to a New Kids concert, what better way to meet heterosexual chicks that are already hot and sweated up thanks to those dancing monkeys. It would be like a Lion in a herd of gazelle easy pickings. After thinking about it, she may have had a point. When is Backstreet boys coming back?

Nora said...

River, the New Kids are coming back in two weeks. I would scan Craigslist and eBay to see if you can't find you a few tickets. Bring some girl friends and perhaps another guy who's looking for easy pickins.

Ratherto said...

I know I'm putting my manhood and heterosexuality on the line here, but there is a common theme running through this blog that is incorrect. Mark Wahlberg is not in NKOTB. Just his brother Donnie. However, before Slippy can say it, I know Marky Mark was in the band when they were starting, but he left before they got big so it does not count. Now that I've said that I might as well put on a dress and change my name to Susan.

Mitchell said...

Speaking of Wahlbergs, anyone seen the SNL sketch called Mark Wahlberg talks to animals? They ran it last weekend. Pretty damned funny.