Please don’t go guuuuuurl!

As is the custom of my people, we gathered to pay homage to the teenyboppers of our youth.

That’s right, people. I saw New Kids on the Block in concert. Me and every other woman aged 38-46 in the metro area.

It was NKOTB, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Salt-n-Pepa, and Naughty by Nature. Those last two were more of a college vibe for me. But my inner 13-year-old girl lost her damned mind at the first three performers.

I went with a group of girlfriends. We didn’t grow up together, but as soon as we were in that arena, we were united by our shared memories and experiences. Oh, you were an awkward teenager filled with yearning? Me too! And you had no real idea what you were yearning for, but you lived and died by the radio? Oh, yes.

That inner 13-year-old girl showed herself to be alive and well. I was transported back to those times that were both carefree and filled with angst. The music made me relive the hoping and the joy, the apprehension of being 13.

And I thought of my sweet friend who was in the thick of those 13-year-old hormones with me. We listened to her mom’s record of the original “I think we’re alone now” on repeat. The radio only played Tiffany’s cover once every 45 minutes, and that clearly wasn’t often enough.

We discussed the merits of each of the NKOTB boys. We did our fair share of lip syncing to Debbie Gibson using a “microphone” fashioned out of a paper towel roll, a tennis ball, and aluminum foil. I’m pretty sure we developed dance routines, too.

And then she moved away. And I was … I was just so sad.

I’ve had some of that muscle memory lately. A dear, beloved friend is moving away now. It’s a good thing for her and her family and for that I am thankful. But … I’m just sad.

It’s not often you find an adult friend who can make you laugh and gossip and sink into a couch like you’re 13. I’m lucky.

And I’m humbled.

We are cumulative. I’m still that awkward 13-year-old, even if my outward body isn’t currently sporting braces and a truly regrettable perm. And I’m the 43-year-old who might look like she has it together, but who is really just bolstered by the good, good people in my world. And music of questionable taste.

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  • Reply Ernie May 10, 2019 at 12:44 am

    Oh, so much to comment on. First thing that pops in my mind, no one (and I mean literally no one) on this earth had a perm more questionable than mine. My mom dropped me off at Main Street (the current Kohls department store- yes, they had a hair salon at the time), and I went solo to request a perm. I was a freshman in high school. They used the smallest, granny rods – um, because I had boy length hair. I came out looking like a granny. My sister came in the store to fetch me, and laughed out loud. Who could blame her?

    As far as music, I am a tad older than you. I was not that into music. I credit my family’s 1976 Chevy Impala station wagon with the AM radio for my music clueless-ness. I liked Janet Jackson, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Duran Duran (8th grade!) and I loved U2, Wilson Philips (college) and Sinead O’Connor (also college). But when I was in high school, my one girlfriend and i decided to go to a Whitney Houston concert. My parents wouldn’t let me go because they feared their would be drugs at the concert. My older sisters had never gone to concerts – see what I was up against? My friends and I were like, ‘Drugs – not at Whitney Houston!’ Then when she died of a drug overdose, I was like – oh – well, maybe there were drugs back stage. BTW – my older sister was allowed to go to a U2 concert the next year. They were Irish, so my Dad, who loves all things Irish, was totally on board and even went and waited in line for her to get tickets. I was like, ‘Now, let’s talk about drugs, DAD!’

    Sorry about your moving away friend. I agree, it is hard to find that kind of a girlfriend (sink into the couch – good description) these days.

  • Reply Mary Carver May 10, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    I love this. We are cumulative. And also, I’m crazy jealous because I made the dumb choice to not buy tickets when I had the chance. Oh well. I’ve still loved hearing reports from friends who went!!

  • Reply melissa May 18, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    It’s all flooding back to me–remember putting a tape recorder next to the radio so you could tape your favorite song when it came on the American Top 40? That’s a heckuva concert.
    Did you stay in touch with that friend from 13? We moved too much so I have no ties to anyone I was friends with at that age. It sort of sucks. As does saying goodbye to grownup girlfriends. Those relationships are rare.

  • Reply Cyndi B May 19, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    I’m so jealous! I’d love to see New Kids. And I feel your pain about good friends moving away. Good friends of ours just moved to Florida. We’re so happy for them, but so sad we’re “losing” them. Even with Facebook, it’s not the same.

  • Reply Hope Smitherman June 2, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    I was supposed to go to that concert in NOLA (had tickets for months and everything.) But, I woke up the morning of it with a husband that was running a fever and by 3pm was running one myself. I was so sad to have missed it. But, I did see the (with Paula Abdul and Boys II Men) a few years back, so I know exactly the vibe that was in the air. So glad you enjoyed it and it brought up some memories for you. I hate to hear that your friend is moving away. Fortunately, this age of social media and technology makes it easier than ever to stay in touch, though it’s not the same as having them close. 🙁

    • Reply Becky Brown June 13, 2019 at 10:40 pm

      I’m sorry you missed the show, Hope. But since you know the vibe, you can recreate it at home and not have to pay $12 for a beer, right?

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