It was 1989. I was a 15 year old girl, he was a boy named Joe. He had big blue eyes and curly brown hair, the kind of boy any girl would be happy to bring home to meet her parents. Our love affair was short, but sweet. He would keep me company while I was doing my homework, he would even sing me to sleep, Joe was always there for me. Things were great until I fell for his friend Donnie. I fell hard. Unlike Joe, Donnie was a bad boy, I was attracted to his wild side, he was the complete opposite of Joe, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't resist his charm. Despite the love triangle, Joe and Donnie remained friends. They had to, for the sake of the band. You see, Joe and Donnie, along with Danny, Jon, and Jordan, were members of the New Kids on the Block, a boy band from Boston, Massachussets. With their hit "Please Don't Go Girl", they kicked off a worldwide phenomenon, NKOTB-mania was a force to be reckoned with, and my friends and I (Tammy and Leesa, yo!) considered ourselves their #1 fans.
With the announcement of a joint NKOTB - Backstreet Boys tour (I never caught BSB fever, my allegiance was always with the boys from Beantown), I've been reminiscing about the time I spent head-over-heels in love with NKOTB. When I say Tammy, Leesa, and I were their #1 fans, I don't think most people comprehend just what that means. We were hardcore. For two years, my life revolved around five boys from Boston, I was a girl obsessed! It all started with one t-shirt I purchased on vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC. That one t-shirt snowballed into a collection of NKOTB memorabilia that included everything from more t-shirts to dolls, to comic books, to tour jackets, coffee table books, and more (much, much more!!).
Tammy, Leesa and I spent every waking second of the day thinking about NKOTB. During our school lunch, we would head to Woolworths to check out the magazine racks, devouring the latest issues of Bop, Tiger Beat, and 16 Magazine, after school we would race home to hang the latest posters in our bedrooms. While every square inch of my walls was occupied by Dannie, Donnie, Joe, Jon, and Jordan, Tammy had also NKOTB comforters and pillows adorning her bed, and NKOTB flags pinned to her ceiling. Needless to say, her house served as command-central for all of our NKOTB-related activites. At Christmas, we knitted scarves for them in their favourite colors (we didn't get a thank-you card). We wrote poems for a fan contest (we lost). In short, we devoted a lot of time and energy to being NKOTB's #1 fans!
I managed to see the New Kids in concert three times -- I caught the Hangin' Tough tour at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, the Magic Summer tour at the Toronto Ex, and the Step-by-Step tour at the Skydome in Toronto. We had tickets for a fourth concert in Detroit, Michigan, not that we had a hope in hell of making it to a concert in Detroit, Michigan, but by virtue of purchasing those tickets, we were preventing three other girls from spending time with our boys. Yes, we were sick, depraved individuals. We usually got decent tickets for the concerts, being the smart whippersnapper I am, I figured out that to buy tickets for a Toronto show, rather than calling the Ticketmaster in Toronto, it made more sense to call the Ticketmaster in Vancouver. I never had to stress out over a busy signal, and we always got decent seats. It was a genius move, if I may say so myself!
We brought binoculars with us to the concerts, not to watch the concerts, but to stalk our prey. Quite frankly, we had the makings of great paparazzi, if only there were paparazzi in the early 90s. The closest we ever came to meeting our idols was meeting their wardrobe manager 'Uncle Rob'. And by meeting him, I mean we took a picture of him. I have a feeling that if I ever had the pleasure of actually meeting anyone from NKOTB, it would have gone over as well as when I met Arlene Dickinson, though I would have been less refined. Quite frankly, I would have probably peed my pants.
Quite possibly the most embarrasing declaration of my undying devotion to NKOTB involved a very special haircut I got before the Magic Summer tour. It wouldn't have been enough to simply wear an NKOTB t-shirt to the concert. Nosirreeebob, no way. I had to stand out. And how, exactly, does one do that, you ask? Like my friend Leesa, I opted to buzz the lower half of the back of my head, and shave the initials NKOTB into my newly buzzed head. Like a true fan, I left a rat's tail. OK, you have my permission to commence laughing now. In hindsight, I realize how completely ridiculous I must have looked. At the time, however, I thought I was da bomb! Surely to God, if Donnie were to see his band's initials shaved into my head, he would drop to one knee and propose on the spot, right? Right????
As embarrassing as my antics back then may seem to me now, on the bright side, my passion for NKOTB kept my friends and I out of trouble. The tour jackets, t-shirts, and initials shaved into our heads (God, what was I thinking???) proved quite effective as a means of warding off real, live boys, we were too busy fantasizing about meeting our idols to even consider the possibility of interacting with boys in the flesh. Our "Drugs Suck" t-shirts kept us on the straight and narrow. When I think of the things our girls will get up to when they're teenagers, there are certainly worse things they could do than become a boy band groupie. If that happens, I will do my best to ensure they manage to keep their dignity intact.