Dear 13 Readers,
You should know that I was never one of those fainting, crying crazed girls with the big buttons and the t-shirts. My sister was a teenager when they came out, and she kept a watchful eye on my fashion choices. I wasn't allowed to peg my jeans either. It didn't bother me really. I had been reared on Motown, Nina Simone, Michael Jackson... Not to mention all of the live music I got to hear played by my father in university concert halls in Connecticut and late nights at jazz clubs in New York. I knew they were silly, but it was nice to have something in common with the gaggle of blond girls who only just barely started to tolerate my presence in the 4th grade after a two years of ceaseless teasing. Those girls had the buttons, bought the albums, knew the words to all the songs, got their parents to take them to concerts. I would roll my eyes on the inside whenever the songs would come on the radio, but I'd sing along anyway. I knew they were silly, but the part of me that liked a good outsider story thought it was sort of cool that they were white boys who'd got their big break at the Apollo Theater.
You should also know that The New Kids on The Block were from a town that wasn't too far from me. They were Boston kids, and the kind who reminded me of the sweet chubby Sicilian boys next door with the dark hair and blue eyes that I had a crush on. Those boys next door would wash their grandfather's Cadillac every weekend and invite me over to swim in their above ground pool that had a grape arbor hanging over it. Sometimes my dad would disappear into their basement with their dad and emerge hours later triumphant with a jar of marinara. Those nice chubby boys would sometimes walk me to the bus stop or around the corner to the store for the candies that we all had to hide from the well trained eyes of our mothers.
You should also know that one time those blond girls came over to my house, and I remember them giggling about the boys next door. Look at their greasy hair, they said. I think one of them got held back, at public school, they said. And they giggled some more before we went inside to listen to the New Kids some more.