Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blowin' my mind for the third time

There are many aspects of my teen years that I don’t have any desire to re-live.
Last night, though, I felt like I was in a time warp back to the early 90s and I was lovin’ it. I was invited to the NKOTB concert at the Xcel Energy Center—free ticket—and had a BLAST. There was a group of 13 of us in a corporate suite (with our very own bathroom, snack bar, and private space to jump around in), we pre-partied at a friend’s house, then kept the party going at the X. I promise I'm not an obsessed fan, aka "a blockhead"—I don't even know their most recent/popular song—but with the energy so electric, it was hard not to get caught up in it. It helped that the guys look and sound better than ever. I think the 13,000 screaming fans would agree with me. And could those women scream, although—unlike the early 90s—I don't think anyone was reduced to hysterical tears (I hope, anyhow, for their sake).
It was fun to see 20-and 30-something women all decked out in T-shirts and hats that said things in puffy paint like: “I’ll be lovin’ you forever,” “Joey’s Girl,” and “I Love Jordan.” Some of the T-shirts were originals from the early 90s, all faded and worn and probably not fitting quite the same as they did 20 years ago, and some of the buttons and T-shirts were from their 2008 tour—emphasizing the handsome grown-up NKOTB rather than the bubblegum baby-faced pop stars New Kids on the Block.
They may have a new name (sort of) and they may be pushing 40, but they really haven’t changed all that much. The boys—Danny (still the sort of ugly one), Jon (the shy one/now the gay one), Donnie (the bad boy), Jordan (the cute one) and Joey (the adorable one with the piercing blue eyes)—sang songs from their old records (Favorite Girl, Step by Step, Hangin’ Tough, You Got It (The Right Stuff), Cover Girl, Please Don’t Go Girl, Tonight, Games, etc.), changed costumes multiple times, and danced in perfect synchronicity. These five (or really three, when you consider the fact that Donnie, Joey and Jordan are really the main attractions) knew how to get the crowd going and KEEP the crowd going. In their hey-dey, they performed close to 200 (!!) concerts per YEAR. In 1991, they made more money than Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. That same year, sales for the group’s merchandise were estimated at $400 million. (I admit it. I had the pillowcases, a poster, and a T-shirt.)
The New Kids have a special place in my heart for being my first concert ever. I saw them in St. Paul with my friend Karla when we were 14. We wore florescent windbreakers, Exclamation! perfume, and hair-dos that consisted of frizzy puffs of bangs and French braids secured with a scrunchie on the bottom. Karla’s dad dropped us off and picked us up, so there was no parental supervision. I can’t remember details of the concert, but I remember the feeling. I thought I was on top of the world.
On July 4, 1990 my closest high school friends (still some of my closest friends today) Karla, Amy, Tonya and I went to see the New Kids again at Harriet Island. The concert planners weren’t thinking logically when they decided on festival seating. Once the gate swung open, thousands of teenage girls ran like a herd of delirious cattle in the quest to find the closest spots on the lawn. As you can imagine, it was pure pandemonium. I think a few girls were even injured in the stampede. My good friend Amy lost a shoe in the madness. Lucky for her, I had an extra pair in my Esprit bag. (Who carries around an extra pair of shoes??) As the afternoon went on, we somehow made it into the VIP section where there were benches rather than the grassy lawn. We could see much better. Another of our high school friends, Treina, saw us from across the fence and started crying and yelling, “I love them more than you!” Once again, I don’t remember much of the actual concert, but I remember feeling blissfully HAPPY.
I also remember blowing my nose that night and getting a Kleenex full of dirt.
Fast-forward to 2008 and there I was again, at a New Kids show, surrounded by one-time boy-crazy girls who knew all the words to the old songs, girls who came of age around the same time I did. It was kind of surreal to think that these one-time boy-crazy girls have evolved into women with careers and financial responsibilities and mortgages and husbands and BABIES (!!), women who probably couldn’t fit into their 14-year-old jeans (sigh) but who can now legally drive, vote, gamble, and order a drink from the bar (woo hoo!) Women who no longer have to IMAGINE what true love is—we now know from experience—yet can still appreciate the innocence and fun of our first boy-band crush.
It was truly an awesome night.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Can she see dead people?

I went to a work-sponsored luncheon yesterday and the speaker was a “fifth generation natural-born psychic.” She’s a 60-year-old dynamo with a mane of crazy black hair and some of the littlest chicken legs I’ve ever seen (she’s a staunch vegetarian) and when she spoke, she was energetic, passionate, and crass (she dropped the f-bomb a few times and—while wearing a short skirt, no less—occasionally sat very, um, UN-lady-like in her chair. Think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct). She’s an unapologetic strong-willed product of the 60s who brought to mind the expression “full of spit and vinegar.” It seemed like every woman in the audience was intrigued.
After she told us about her life, and how she developed her sixth sense, she took questions from the audience. One woman asked how she could quiet the noise in her head in order to meditate (since this woman had grown up Catholic, the psychic suggested reciting an old Catholic prayer over and over), another asked how a woman can develop her intuition (start with small things, like the outcome of a baseball game, before trying to tackle big, personal issues), another asked if a baby was in her near future (eventually, the psychic told her, but not until she visits another country first). The moderator of the luncheon asked if she’s ever seen ghosts (yes) and HOW, exactly, she knew she had this rare sixth sense (“You know how some people are natural writers or artists or dancers? I was a natural psychic. I just knew. I had the gift.”)
And then it got really interesting. One of my coworkers asked the psychic if she could “invite her in” to “read her aura” (the psychic had explained early on that she won’t read someone’s aura or palm or cards unless first given permission) and the psychic told her that she sensed there was a lot of pressure to have a baby. She then told her that she kept hearing the name Mary. “I can’t think of anyone named Mary,” my coworker answered. “Do you mean my MARRIAGE? I’m MARRIED.” No, no, it was a woman named Mary.
Knowing this particular (adorable) coworker and knowing a little about her relationship, it sure seemed like she was looking for some type of validation ABOUT her marriage. Instead the psychic told her that her husband is “really cute” and “they’d have a baby girl together.” Not quite the answer she was hoping for.
Another coworker, who looks very Italian, was asked if she knows a Tony. (What Italian doesn’t know a Tony?) Her brother happens to be Tony. The psychic then said that her brother felt tormented by her when they were growing up (her brother is 13 years younger than she is, there was no tormenting/teasing, just babysitting). She also said this coworker wanted to be a lawyer because she was always asking questions (she said she has never been interested in law), mentioned a tennis racket (huh?) and said she was scared of doctors (on some level, who isn’t?)
Another coworker asked if her husband should open his own deli in the skyway (the answer was yes) and yet another was told to re-do her stairwell (um, not really possible, since she rents an apartment). When a CLEARLY foreign woman “invited her to read her aura,” the psychic immediately asked, “How many languages do you speak?” (anyone could’ve figured out she speaks at least two) and when the psychic asked another woman how many kids she has, and the woman said she doesn’t have kids, the psychic blamed it on the fact that the woman’s table-mate was sitting too close to her and her “aura was bleeding” over to the next chair, which is why she was picking up her aura instead of the woman in question.
I don’t want to sound TOO cynical (is it too late for that?) but I have a hard time believing that this woman could look at a total stranger and sum up her life in a matter of seconds. There’s a part of me that WANTS to believe she really can “read” a person’s aura somehow, and there’s a part of me that thinks maybe some people really do have the ability to tap into their sixth sense (Gary Spivey is not one of them, I’m thinking more along the lines of psychics who help solve police mysteries), and there’s an even bigger part of me that’s like: You believers are GULLIBLE. I can’t blame them for eating it up, though. I keep thinking about Whoopi’s character Oda May Brown in the movie Ghost. Who doesn’t want to believe that living people can somehow communicate with the dead? Who doesn’t want affirmation that their dearly departed loved ones are safely on the “other side”? Who doesn’t want to think that a stranger might have the uncanny ability to see into our future and read us better than even we can read ourselves?
I used to watch John Edwards’ show “Crossing Over” until my husband asked me why this LEGITIMATE psychic was on the Science Fiction channel? He had a point. And then I later read somewhere that all of his shows are heavily edited to get rid of the “misses” – leaving the viewer with a sense that he’s never wrong about anyone, when in reality he has just as many misses as he does “hits.”
On the flip side, the psychic was extremely entertaining AND she donated all proceeds to a wonderful children’s nonprofit organization in town, and for that I commend her.