"(Everything I do) I do it for you" by Bryan Adams) at Tre Cage's end-of-year party, which I later learned was a dare issued to him by the aforementioned neighbor boy, but I still fawned over him and attempted to send him letters for a year after his family moved. Naturally, our fated relationship went nowhere. But this post is about older things, really. Me, in the olden days, and just me, being old. Let's refocus.
As I awkwardly approached my 10th birthday, I was still being tightly held against the bosom of Catholicism. I was finishing up my second-to-last year of school at St. Timothy's and though I was required to wear a uniform at school, I constructed a uniform for myself outside of school as well. I liked consistency. Wrapped up in neon spandex bike shorts and oversized t-shirts, I slowly turned myself into the most awkward of fan girls for the sensational singing group New Kids on the Block. You're familiar? Excellent. The most I ever owned in the way of NKOTB fan girl paraphernalia was this t-shirt and a poster similar to the one I've recreated for this post. Joey McIntyre, the squeaky, pre-pubescent youngest member of the group was the one who stole my heart. When he sang "Please Don't Go Girl", I would've bet every single one of my banana clips AND scrunchies that he was singing it to me. I might've even thrown in a slap bracelet. He hit high notes better than a soprano could in adulthood, and what he lacked in height or body hair he made up with a winning, bright smile and charismatic confidence. My friends teased me for liking the "baby" of the group, preferring to fawn over Jordan Knight (I knew he was gay before I knew my own brother was gay, mmkay) or Donnie Wahlberg, the requisite bad boy who would later turn his life down a dark path before being resurrected in a melodic cameo in his brother Marky Mark's infamous song "Good Vibrations". I fought long and hard for Joey, and I even made sure that once I had moved beyond puberty into adulthood, I bought the first album he ever put out with a deep voice, Meet Joe Mac in 2001 to show my commitment to him. He appreciated it, and not just because I was one of seven people who purchased it.
About six years ago, I was at a party where we participated in traditional adult party behaviors like lemon drop shots and beer pong, scandalous liaisons in the rooms scattered throughout the home and even some confusing shit that went down on the back porch. After the crowds faded and my friends and I (all of us varying degrees of lady-gay, mind you) were lined up on the ugly reclining sofa watching television, it occurred to my friend Lindsay, the party's hostess, that she had something that could push the night even later. She scurried down to her bedroom and scaled the stairs in twos on the way up. We passed around a bottle of vodka and told slurred-speech stories to one another, mocked the losers that attend the soiree, and watched as Lindsay knocked down everything on the television but the VCR that she was clamoring to reach. Once she slid the tape in, she threw the box into the dining room and told us to wait for the exciting revelation. Within a few moments of the opening credits, I knew what we were in for. She had just put the "Step-by-Step" concert video on. We stayed up until 5am PERFORMING the entire almost-two-hour show two times over. Still, I fought with all of those LESBIAN friends about who was the hunkiest and most desirable member of NKOTB. No one loved Joey but me.
Why am I publicly embarrassing myself once again? Because despite my commitment to homosexuality and the allure of femininity-eschewing butches, I still can't help that I always love the baby-faced pipsqueak who puts out albums to satisfy girls between the ages of eight and twelve. A few weeks ago, you may have noticed that I was teasing Em about Justin Bieber on Twitter. At home, I was even worse! Not a day has gone by in the past few weeks that The Biebs hasn't come up in casual conversation between the two of us, and I've been pushed to the edge. I've tried to talk myself out of it, I've tried to figure out why I can't stop playing the song and doing a little shimmy if the chorus gets stuck in my head. I've tried to deny the fact that I will listen to it when I'm alone and even sometimes on my headphones at work. But I can't hide it anymore. I like Justin Bieber. Maybe I feel comfortable with him, because he looks like so many of the lesbians I surrounded myself with in my 20s. Maybe it's because Joey and I never made it as a couple, or because he never made a career for himself beyond the early-90s. Maybe I validate it because Missy Elliot has also done "duets" with Ludacris, therefore validating his pairing with The Biebs. I honestly don't have the answer for you. I guess these boys will always be around.