The year was 1989. My best friend Amanda and I were hanging out in her garage. There were probably roller skates involved. There were usually roller skates involved. I know there was a radio because this song came on that stopped me in my tracks. I asked Amanda, “WHO is THAT?” She said something along the lines of, “Aren’t they rad? It’s the New Kids on the Block!”
It was love at first listen.
My memory is that it was “Hangin’ Tough,” but looking at the order the singles were released on that album, it probably was “Please Don’t Go Girl.” Which is, and always has been, my very favorite.
They went on a tour that summer, but I didn’t get to go. I tease my mom about being overprotective. I do recall her saying I was too young to go to the concert without an adult. And, for some reason, she wasn’t that interested in hanging out in an arena full of shrieking teenage girls.
The reality, though, is probably that she couldn’t afford to buy the tickets.
I sometimes pretend that I’ve been holding a grudge all these years, but I really, truly didn’t. It was always something I just chalked up to never getting to do. Just one of those missed opportunities from my childhood, like…other things I didn’t get to do and can’t think of right now.
And then. In 2012, they went on a REUNION TOUR with the Back Street Boys and I thought, “Now’s the time! I finally get to do this!”
Except that none of my friends wanted to go.
I take that back. One friend wanted to go but couldn’t afford it. And I couldn’t afford to pay for both tickets. So, once again, I missed out.
They announced a new tour for 2017.
This might be it. I might finally go.
Except that, once again, no one seemed to want to go. Back in February, Emily and I talked about going to their Salt Lake City show, but when I realized it was two days before I leave for India, I knew I couldn’t make that work. Sadly, I resigned myself to the fact that I would miss them yet again. Because I can do movies alone and eat at restaurants solo and travel. But going alone to a concert is just something I can’t quite bring myself to do.
But a couple of days ago, my friend Debbi sent me a text message on a random Thursday and said that there were still tickets available.
The last I had checked, tickets were all sold out, except for the crazy expensive VIP seats.
(Although, now that I’ve seen the Hamilton ticket prices, those VIP fees don’t seem so outrageous…)
Anyway, there were still some tickets for the Saturday show at the brand new Anaheim House of Blues. The tickets were General Admission, so it didn’t matter that Debbi already had hers. I was about to click “purchase” when I decided at the last second to check StubHub. And they had tickets. And they were a little bit cheaper. DONE!
Now, here’s the kind of funny thing about me and Debbi. We’ve known each other through church for a couple of years. And we talk frequently and know a lot about each other. But we had never actually done anything social together before. And we had a BLAST geeking out together over our boys.
The show was SO MUCH FUN. I loved every minute of it.
I’m not going to give a critical analysis of how their dancing skills have slipped a bit since they were teenagers (SHOCKER!), or the fact that Joey McIntyre just can’t hit those high notes on “Please Don’t Go, Girl” quite the same way anymore.
Because this show was just about fulfilling a dream I’ve had since I was 12 years old, hanging out in Amanda’s garage, starting to realize that boys were a mystery I might like to learn more about.
They did all the songs you’d expect. “Please Don’t Go, Girl,” and “(You’ve Got) The Right Stuff,” and “Cover Girl.” They did some of their newer stuff like “Still Sounds Good” and “One More Night.”
There was one moment I did NOT expect at all. During one of the numbers, a few of the women around us started screaming and jumping and looking down at something on the floor. I heard someone say, “Rat!” and I looked down too, just in time to see something move past my foot. Ewww! I screamed too. Debbi asked what was going on and I said, “I think there’s a rat or something!” I looked back down and realized it was NOT a rat, it was a foot. And another foot. Attached to legs. And they were sliding across the floor in a really weird way and I realized it was a guy from the road crew pulling a big, heavy box into the middle of this small group of people right where we were and I realized immediately what was happening.
“Oh my gosh!” I said to Debbi. “They’re coming out into the crowd!”
“Maybe we’ll get Donnie!” she said.
“Or Joey,” I said. Although, in my mind I thought, “But it’ll probably be Danny.”
And then Donnie jumped off the stage and crowd surfaced to a spot most of the way to the back where we were standing.
And then Joey appeared up on the balcony where the VIPs were sitting.
Suddenly, this happened:
Why yes, yes that IS Danny Wood heading right toward us.
Now, what I love most about this picture is the fact that most of the women around him are completely oblivious that this is happening.
(Also, Danny is basically the same height as me, which was super weird.)
(But holy crap his arms OMG.)
So then this happened:
And he was just RIGHT THERE and I couldn’t even help myself.
Yes. I touched Danny Wood from New Kids on the Block.
I touched a New Kid.
It was totally NOT in an inappropriate place.
But it was still kind of a weird and borderline creepy thing to do.
Even though everyone else around us was doing it too.
What can I say?
I seriously felt like I was 14 all over again. And boys were definitely not icky.
At least those boys weren’t.
For years I’ve been seeing Donnie pop up all over the place in different movies and TV shows and at some point, he became my favorite. I think just because of exposure. The rest had kind of faded from my attention over time.
But oh man. It turns out I still love Joey. And Jordan and Jonathan. And Danny. I love them all. And I always will.
I took a million pictures and shared a bunch of video clips on my Instagram, but mostly, I just wanted to soak it all in. But, for your viewing pleasure, here are a couple that I took. It’s kind of funny because my phone takes better videos than photos sometimes and this is definitely one of those times.
“I’ll Be Loving You Forever”
(Lead Vocals: Jordan Knight and that crazy falsetto!)
“Step by Step”
(The only song I recorded in basically its entirety.)
“Hangin’ Tough”–Just a quick clip from the end of the show
(BTW, I had to fish a ton of that confetti out of my bra when I got home!)
Yeah, there were some crazy moments. Like when they brought a girl on stage to sing “Happy Birthday” to here, which was Jonathan’s song. The girl was 13 and I was like, “She doesn’t even KNOW!” And also the part where another girl passed out and security had to jump in and carry her out.
Such a great night. Exactly what I needed. And I savored every moment.
But, as I said that night on Facebook: Now I just have to meet Tom Cruise and I will have accomplished all of the life goals I had at 14.