long term effects of New Kids on the Block

A few days ago I received one, no, scratch that and reverse it, I received a few emails about the reunion of a band of my youth—New Kids on the Block, a.k.a. N.K.O.T.B., a.k.a. Dannie, Donnie, John, Jordan, and little Joey Mc…Jordan was my favorite, in case you were wondering—and a nostalgia swept over me. While driving home that night, listening to The Two Towers on CD (yes, yes, I know…what is that line my roommate M always uses…ah yes, “do you know why you are single?), when I began to think of how the reunion of a band, albeit a boy band, can unleash upon us a little of the past while we may be scrambling for a sense of where the future, like that bus in “Speed,” is going.

Rewind the tape of my life nearly a decade. It is the school year of ‘89-‘90, I was in 4th grade, standing without knowing it, at the precipice of the abyss, moving steadily nearer to teen angst and puberty, but still in that ignorant bliss that assured me that my parents knew best, would always know best, and were the key to understanding everything. All was well. I was a content little goof ball, spending my free time between reading anything I could get my hands on and making modifications on my fort.

The last years’ sounds, including the Cocktail soundtrack someone had given us, many of Huey Lewis and the News’ tapes, and as always WOMC 104.3 out of Detroit could be heard throughout our house and in the garage where Dad could be found puttzing or working on the car; also could be heard quietly—streaming from my sister’s turned down radio or a hand-me down walkman—Skid Row’s “18 and Life,” or Bon Jovi’s, geez anything…wasn’t he fantastic back then!? Then out of the blue, and I am not entirely sure how it happened, I heard of this band New Kids on the Block. And, then they were everywhere…infesting main stream pop culture with their catchy boy-bandy music. And somehow in that mess, me, the forever tomboy was swept along like something dragged from the gutter by a street sweeper by songs like “Covergirl” (my favorite), “Hanging Tough” (remember the dance?) and “Please don’t go girl.”

I argued about who was the cutest (the Knight Bros. in my opinion) with friends on the playground at lunch, while we played “turtle, turtle, Shredder”—our modified Teenage Mutant Version of “duck, duck, goose”—my idea, thank you very much. I envied the girls whose parents bought them those ridiculously oversized pins (the size of a hand…does anyone remember these?...does anyone still own these?!). And I felt supremely superior when my older brother A3’s teacher allowed a friend and I to stay in during recess and help her (she was so cool), and she actually let us listen to my Hanging Tough tape.

So fickle is youth. By that fall as I began 5th grade at my new (Catholic) school I felt the last throes of the Boys that changed the way I thought about boys; I was like a disenchanted lover—a disenchanted lover who had just begun to wear her first bra and deodorant—the magic of the last romance wearing off.

I sometimes wonder if the ways that people are allowed to respond to something as mundane as their favorite band in childhood affects the way that they mature as adults. I wonder what kind of person I would be today if my parents bought be the N.K.O.T.B. t-shirt I so desperately wanted; the sleeping bag or bed set that my friends had; the concert tickets that I would die if I did not get—and I am still here. Am I a different person because of my parents’ putting their respective feet down in practicality? Or does the way that we respond to our first pop culture crushes say a little something about the way that we learn to be in a relationship? I was recently—by one of my closest guy friends Chris—accused of being secretive about relationships. After polling everyone at the table I learned that they all shared the same belief as Chris. Could it be that this tomboy’s need to hide her true feelings for the Knight Brothers of N.K.O.T.B. at home has manifested into a relationship denial state?

Maybe I will never know about what effects the New Kids on the Block had on me. Why so many random, nostalgic thoughts? College K and I were just discussing the other night that we have our 10 year class reunions this year; and while I am no means old, I am always surprised at how the time flies by and how as we are drawn farther down that road towards the unknown we try so desperately to cling to the past which served us, if in no other way, as a means to where we are now. Maybe I am just having my quarter life crisis…


Amy said…
Wow, I want to know more, Monster Librarian! This is fantastic!
Colleen said…
Oh my. I won a fourth grade talent contest by dancing to "The Right Stuff." What memories. Yes, I remember teh buttons (though I don't know where mine went), and was jealous of my best friend who had the bedroom set. I did have one of those nifty ring-things you pulled the long t-shirt through, when you wore a long tee over leggings. With layered scrunch socks.

*sigh* Maybe this, too, is why I'm single. That, and because NKOTB's greatest hits CD is in my Jeep... *grin* It was funny to watch the world re-discover the boy band in 98 degrees, NSYNC and the Backstreet boys. All I could think was "Been there, done that, and ours were better." Or maybe it's just that I'm old too.
JennPav said…
Very intersting. I only liked New Kids because my babysitter, whom I adored, loved them. I hung up all their pictures on my wall but I didn't know who was who and didn't think any of them were cute. I thought they were old.
But more along the lines of what you were saying-- my cousin died in 1990 and she was 16. She was buried in jeans and an MC Hammer shirt. I know that sounds stupid and funny now, but it wasn't. He was huge back then and everyone loved him. On the last day of her visitation, everyone from her school wore an MC Hammer shirt. So did my cousins. My mom wouldn't get me one, though. I have thought about that so much since then. I don't really know how I feel about it now. Its just something in my brain.

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