I like to know what’s going on in the world. As an American citizen, I feel that it’s my civic duty to be informed about the most pertinent issues of the day. The crisis in Egypt. The Australian cyclone. The Dow Jones topping twelve thousand. As such, I keep my homepage set to CNN so that at any given moment I may have access to all the breaking news from around the globe. Yet nothing could have prepared me for the following headline: “Jonathan Knight: I was never in the closet.”

I immediately clicked on the link to get the full story. “‘I have lived my life very openly and have never hidden the fact that I am gay!’ Knight, 42, says in a message posted in the members-only section of the NKOTB blog.” Shocking, isn’t it? Jonathan Knight is forty-two years old.

When did that happen? Must be a typo. If Jonathan Knight is already in his forties, then… *quick math*… I’m kind of old, too.

I swear it was just yesterday that I was singing “Hangin’ Tough” and scribbling “Mrs. Joey McIntyre” on all my notebooks. It’s true. I was a huge New Kids on the Block fan. Though my sister harbored a serious obsession with Duran Duran only a few years prior, my devotion to those boys from Beantown easily put her British fixation to shame. I listened to New Kids every day. I attended their concerts every chance I got. I even dragged my ass out of bed each Saturday morning to watch their cartoons. My collection of NKOTB memorabilia went far beyond mere posters and CDs. Rather my entire bedroom was converted into one very large and disturbing New Kids shrine. I literally had it all: videotapes, t-shirts, pins, stickers, pillows, comforter, shoelaces, baseball cards, comic books… It was nauseating.

But my love for them was pure and true, and I defied anyone who disputed their greatness. I never encountered backlash from peers, but from time to time, tensions would run high in the Keizer household. In fact, a very heated debate once surfaced between my father and I regarding who had the bigger influence on pop music: New Kids or The Beatles. God bless the man for humoring my idiocy as he did. Talks broke down quickly, though, as neither of us would budge from our stance on the matter. Our conversation finally ended with a definitive, “Dad, you just don’t understand!”

Looking back, I don’t understand either. And where are all those treasured artifacts now? I’m guessing a landfill somewhere in the Chicago suburbs. I instantly adored New Kids on the Block, and just as instantly I abandoned them. Such is the loyalty of a preteen girl. Why I loved them as much as I did is a mystery to me, but I know I’m not alone. In the years since, I’ve watched other musical phenomena come and go and sometimes come again. Backstreet Boys. ‘N Sync. Jonas Brothers. Justin Bieber. Truly mind-blowing is that NKOTB and Backstreet Boys will be touring together this summer. Talk about worlds colliding. It begs the question, “What the hell is wrong with teenage girls?” Seriously. They get crazy. And though I’ve called out only the male flavors of the month, the same kind of mania could be applied to Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus. Their fanatical following transcends all nationalities and races. More than once I’ve caught footage of girls from around the world screaming and crying as whatever pop sensation waves to them from a moving car or airport terminal. I cringe upon realizing that (not too) long ago that was me. I still don’t get it. From where does this frenzied infatuation come? Do boys get this amped up over video games and fantasy football?

The sad truth is that with each passing day my childhood retreats further into the hazy past, and I become less likely to ever again recapture that kind of unconditional reverence. Easily now I could be on the receiving end of that damning phrase: “You just don’t understand.” I try, though. I even searched YouTube the other day to see if perhaps by watching some old videos it might reignite that spark of adulation once more.

It didn’t. Though my trip down memory lane wasn’t a complete waste of time. For one, “Games” was hands down the coolest anti-smoking PSA of 1990. (Go to 3:19.) Two, did nobody notice that while Donnie, Danny, Jordan and Joey were all either hitting up the homies or canoodling with the ladies, Jonathan was washing his dog and checking himself out in a mirror? I think he’s even wearing leather pants in the last shot.

Okay, we get it. You’re gay.

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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4 Responses to “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time?”

Wow! I haven’t heard one of their songs since I was 8, and I used to be OBSESSED with NKOTB! Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I used to have their posters, t-shirts, books, even beach towels… we should dig up pictures and compare our KNOTB gear!

February 3rd, 2011

You had a beach towel! Okay, now I’m a little jealous. 😉

February 3rd, 2011

What a trip down memory lane! Did you buy Bop magazines when you were a kid? My room was covered in posters from Bop! Oh no…….now I have “Hangin Tough” stuck in my head.

February 12th, 2011

Yes, I totally bought Bop! Teen Beat, too! I would spend hours reading those magazines from cover to cover…

February 14th, 2011