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NKOTBSBNBN

14 Jun

I may have mentioned this previously, but, as a painfully awkward teenager, I was the world’s biggest New Kids on the Block fan.  For real.  I had all the standard tee shirts, painters caps, special editions of Tiger Beat, and pins, along with some snazzy homemade pillows (thanks, Mom!), and a giant poster of Joey McIntyre above my bed.  (He may have been my un-official first kiss).  At one point, I told my dad that the New Kids would be bigger than the Beatles.  I don’t think he’s stopped laughing about that one, and it was a good twelve years ago.

I don’t remember if the New Kids faded out or I lost interest in them first, but either way, I refined my taste in music.  I had a brief affair with NSync and OTown, went to college and listed to Dave Matthews Band like everyone else, and had a bad boy phase with Eminem.  But my love for the New Kids (now adults like me, and known as NKOTB) never really ended, it just took a back seat to other obsessions (currently, O.A.R.)  Come on, who doesn’t love when “Hangin’ Tough” comes on the iPod?  And you know you get choked up during “Please Don’t Go Girl,” you just won’t admit it.  I even met Danny Wood (admittedly my least favorite New Kid, but still a New Kid!) at the Komen Race for the Cure a couple of years ago, and may have swooned.

Okay, I definitely swooned.  And, as an aside, Danny is a pretty big Komen supporter, as he lost his mom to breast cancer.  A New Kid and a good guy, what more could you want?

So, when my college roommate told me she had an extra ticket to NKOTBSB (that’s New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys, together, for those who live under a rock) at Fenway, I jumped at the chance.  The last time I saw the New Kids in concert I was 12, and with my mom and brother (who will lie and say he didn’t love it, but he did).  NKOTB + alcohol + Fenway = perfect, right?

The concert was pretty great.  Uber cheesy, but what else would you expect?  I was obviously there mostly for NKOTB (not that I don’t love me a little BSB too, I’m an equal opportunity boy band lover – see OTown comment above), but I caught a ride from the party I was at during the day with some younger girls who were there for BSB, so there was a good mix of people, 99% female, in the crowd.  (And yes, I drank at a party all afternoon before the concert.  I’m pretty hardcore, if hardcore means 5 beers over 5 hours).

Both groups started the show together, and I don’t know what the “mash-up” (I learned that term on Glee.  Maybe I should do more adult things) was, but it involved Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” and I didn’t like it.  I love Coldplay, and it just felt wrong.  It got better from there, as both groups took turns on stage, going through all the classics.  They also pulled out all the classic moves: pulling girls up on stage and handing them roses while they sang and the girls swooned, lots of shirt ripping and ab flexing, and a slightly overdramatic “Please Don’t Go Girl” by the ever-hot Joey Mac.

Then the rain came, and it came hard.  I looked like a drowned rat within minutes, and was not really drunk enough to enjoy it.  But the show went on, and the boys (men?) took advantage of the rain by stripping more, and using the stage as a slip and slide.  I wish I had more pictures, but I was afraid of drowning my camera or iPhone.  It was seriously that wet.

Oh, the NBN in the title?  Naughty by Nature was there, and sang “Hip Hop Hooray” while wearing Naughty Kid on the Block tee shirts.  I’m not 100% clear on why they were there, but they were awesome.

The final song of the night, performed in Bruins jerseys, was the NKOTBSB single, “Don’t Turn Out the Lights,” which I didn’t think I knew, yet seemed to know all the words to.  Weird.  After chanting “NKOTBSB” for a few minutes (did I mention I turned into a screeching teenager sometime after the first song?), BSB sang “Everybody” and NKOTBSB sang “Hangin’ Tough” on the Green Monster, then they mashed it up (thanks again, Mr. Shue from Glee, for that helpful new term!)

Despite the rain, and lack of cabs, and running to catch the last train home, it was an awesome night.  “They” say a picture says a thousand words, and I’d say this one pretty much sums it up:

For those of you not lucky enough to be there, here’s a clip of “Hangin’ Tough” from bostonherald.com.  Come on, tell me that doesn’t make you want to wave your arms from side to side?  (Baby put your hands up)

(Oh, and I heart Joey Mac.  For Evah).

Here’s to you…

22 Jan

Last night, I went to dinner with some of my best friends.  I met them 14 years ago, when I was a scared 17-year-old away from home for the first time at college two hours from my family and friends.  We were all assigned to “Second Street,” a strange little dorm with quads on two floors of the administration building on campus.  No one really knew where we lived, we weren’t in the Virgin Vault at the bottom of the hill, or the Slut Hut in between the boy’s dorms.  We all met that first week, became the “Street Girls,” and the ten of us pretty much stuck to each other like glue for four years of college.

Since the day we met, we’ve been through a lot together, good and bad.  First loves and first heartbreaks (“We’ll have one of everything on the menu; we’ve had a breakup”), marriages & divorces, fights (some involving wrestling & potato chips) and some of the best nights of our lives.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve danced to “Like a Prayer” or held up beer bottles to sing “Living on a Prayer.”  We’ve had random conversations with boys (“Oh, you’re Irish?” “si”), and nights when I’ve been in pain from laughing so much.  We’ve eaten & drank more together than I care to admit, but may have danced enough to burn some of it off.

Now, we all have our own lives, not crammed together in a smelly dorm room.  We almost all live within an hour of Boston, with one in Chicago who we’ve been lobbying to get back here.  Some of us get together more than others, but we always make an effort to have a Christmas gathering of some sort.  We’ve had sleepovers & house parties involving booze soup, and more recently, have settled on a big meal out, lots of wine, and re-telling of old stories (“How old is Nik’s baby now?”)

Last night we met at an Italian restaurant, and 8 of 10 of us were there, which may be a record.  We raised our glasses to toast the only toast we seem to know: “Here’s to you and here’s to me, the best of friends we’ll always be.  But if by chance we disagree, well, fuck you, and here’s to me.”

I hate that toast, and I was feeling sentimental and a little mushy, so I said so.  But, of course, I couldn’t come up with a better one, so we compromised by changing the last “me” to “we.”  And it made me feel better, because the original toast just isn’t true.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve disagreed about things: boys, money, child rearing, dual citizenship, careers, how much to tip, what to order for dinner.  And you know what?  It doesn’t matter how much we disagree, I can’t imagine a single Street Girl ever saying “screw you, I’m done.”

That’s what defines a true friendship: not the years we’ve spent together, not the trips we’ve taken or number of kegs we’ve consumed.  True friendship is sticking together through the disagreements, being there for each other through the hard times, and knowing that even though we can’t turn the clock back to trekking to the caf in the snow wearing pajamas, and we might not see each other enough now that we’re “grown ups”, we’re still the best of friends, no matter what.

Here’s to we.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

10 Aug

(Credit to Becca, who had a similar post recently)

My little baby cousins are growing up.  One is going to college this year, two will follow shortly behind, and the last two are in middle school and probably no longer think boys have cooties.  Considering I changed all of their diapers, this is all hitting me particularly hard.

My oldest cousin is going to the school where my BFF teaches (professes?), which makes me happy because I can secretly spy on him.  The next one (who used to be “Robbie”, but is now apparently “Rob”) is full of, “I don’t know where I want to go” boy-ness, but has to decide this year.  He said he might like to check out St. Anselm, from where I happily graduated 9 years ago, and my brother followed two years later.  So, his mom made an appointment, I took the day off, and off we went, the Nana in tow.

I tried not to embarrass Robbie, er, Rob, too much buy taking pictures, so some are kind of blurry.  I also tried not to interject too many stupid comments about campus, but did fill him in on such wonders of Saint A’s like The Virgin Vault and the Slut Hut, neither of which are all that exciting unless you’re eighteen.  The Nana, however, spent the day reminiscing about the gingerbread house I made, and some restaurant that was so good, but she could never find it again.  I bet it was Applebees.

Here’s where I used to live, and where I met nine of my closest friends almost thirteen years ago.  Its two floors of girl’s quads in the back of the main building, Alumni Hall, and no one knows about them.  I panicked when I got my room assignment, because I couldn’t find my dorm anywhere on a map of campus.  I lived on Second Street (way cooler than Third Street), and my friends and I still call ourselves The Street Girls (again, not quite as cool as it sounded at eighteen).

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Here’s Stoneface.  I had to look at him twice a week as I dragged myself into the theatre for Humanities lecture.  I don’t really know what he’s there for, aside from a meeting place.  Something about the Arts or other such silliness that didn’t involve boys or drinking.

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Here’s the gym.  It has all new fancy pants equipment I’d like to think I’d use if I went there now.  I wouldn’t.  Right next to the gym is the post office where I worked for three years.  I wanted to take a picture of my mailbox, but thought that might embarrass Rob.

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Here’s part of the quad.  The building in the back is where I had to go write papers and print out all the oh-so-funny e-mail chains I receieved from everybody I went to high school with.  In front of the building is the Rock of Love, and on the right is the boy’s dorm where I mastered window-climbing-in while wearing dresses.  (These stories were not shared with Robbie).  Did I mention the fact that Saint A’s doesn’t allow boys in girls dorms, and vice versa, aside from certain hours?  I swear no one told me that before I agreed to go there.

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Leaving campus, we drove past the house where I lived Senior Year.  It looks mostly the same, as does the neighborhood.  We once had a pig’s head on that roof, and Port-A-Potties in the yard.  Again, things Rob can learn about for himself in college.

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Overall, not much has changed since I left campus.  The main change was that the convent is now classrooms.  I wonder what happened to the nuns?  I hope they weren’t tossed out on to the street.  Oh, and the tour guide had a tee shirt on that said “Saint Anselm is my Homeboy.”  We didn’t have that in 2000.

Lastly, here we are, leaving campus.  Look, Rob is already a Hawk — he fits right in!  I wish I had the picture of us at Alumni Hall when he was six or so, but he probably wouldn’t like if I posted that one.

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After a trip to the bookstore, TGIFridays, and the state of New Hampshire liquor store, I don’t really know if Rob has any idea where he wants to go for school next year.  Still, it was a great day to reminisce about the good old days of college.  I’m going to mix up some Jungle Juice and order a pizza at midnight to complete the trip down memory lane.

The End of an Era

4 Nov

This weekend, I went up to Manchester, NH to run a half marathon. I went to college at St. A’s in nearby Goffstown, so I know the area fairly well (technically, I know how to get to assorted bars & chain restaurants really well, I just wing it around the rest of Manch-Vegas). Driving from the Expo to the hotel in the pouring rain (I swear we get a Nor’easter the day before every big race I run. I could be a weather girl), I noticed that “The Balls” is gone!

“The Balls” was never called “The Balls” while I was in college. It was called the “Rack ‘Em Up Lounge.” Honestly, I’m not sure if or when it was actually called “The Balls.” Or why, for that matter. Its probably because of the numerous pool tables, or it may be simply because it was just so cool (you know: the balls).

My first trip to The Balls was the first Thursday of Freshman year. I wore jean shorts, sneakers, and a tee shirt I bought from a frat boy. I danced until I was a sweaty pig, and watched my new roommate dance on speakers. Shockingly, I didn’t pick up any guys, and she was pregnant 7 months later.

The Balls was owned by George & Hannah. George had a loud raspy voice, and yelled at anyone who sat on his pool tables or drank too much. Hannah was his wife who swore like a sailor. They were the perfect couple. They were an institution around St. A’s. Career & Employment Services once actually put up signs reading “If you don’t want to end up like George at The Balls, come to CES for career guidance.”

The Balls was huge. It had tons of pool tables that we usually just tried to sit on, two bars, and a dance floor. Oh, and, later on, a sex toy shop where George & Hannah’s dog would nap. They had drink specials, and really strong Long Island Iced Teas. And Thursday was college night, so you could get in if you were under 21 (it probably wasn’t a coincidence that there was always a handful of sketchy locals at the bar on college night). You were supposed to be at least 18, but George only checked your license if you were drinking. He wasn’t happy when I announced to him, three weeks into the school year, that I was turning 18 that night. Oops.

If you were under 21, upon entering at the jacked up cover charge, you received a giant X on each hand, courtesy of an Industrial Sharpie. Those Xs stayed on for days, no matter how hard we tried to wash them off in the bathroom. A quick glance around Chem Lecture on Friday morning would tell you exactly who went out the night before, as the Xs were either still on their hand, or, for the unfortunate few who slept with a hand under their cheek and drooled, on their face.

The Balls was always our fallback Thursday night hangout. Some nights we were dying to go there, especially when a fraternity was hosting the night. We could usually convince the DJ to play Madonna for us if we knew him. And you could always count on hearing “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” There was a Dunkies and an ATM that gave money out in singles next door. It was the perfect place for a bunch of Catholic college kids with hard classes and no boys allowed in their rooms to unwind after a long week of Humanities Seminar.

So, now a St. A’s institution is gone. And I’m left to wonder: where will college kids go to drink underage? Is there somewhere else they can shamelessly grind with co-eds on the dance floor? What parking lot will frat boys use to beat the crap out of each other after a night of drinking? Are George and Hannah happy? Did they open a bigger sex toy shop? I may never know.

Farewell, Rack ‘Em Up Lounge.