Let's start with a moment of silence, because it's been over 3 weeks since I saw New Kids on the Block in concert. 3 WEEKS?!? I've used the time to reflect and organize my thoughts so that I can share in detail, the wondrousness of it all, with you.
Before we begin though, I need to get something off of my chest...Marky Mark was/is NOT one of the New Kids on the Block!!!! His brother, Donnie Wahlberg (aka Annette's other husband) IS. Sorry, it had to be said because if ONE.MORE.PERSON asks me if Marky Mark was there I may lose my mind.
OK, now that we've cleared that up, we can begin.
It started back in November when it was announced that New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys were teaming up to go on tour and it would be called NKOTBSB=New Kids on the Block Backstreet Boys. I'm only typing that all out once so stay with me. I will admit that when Annette and I first heard that Backstreet Boys were going to be with them, we were none too pleased. We'd prefer to spend the whole 2 hours of a concert with only our New Kids, we did not welcome the distraction that BSB (Backstreet Boys..last time) and their crazy fans would bring to the show. Backstreet Boys came out quite a few years after NKOTB had blazed the boy band trail for them. Their fans are mostly 20 somethings who may or may not how to know act appropriately at a concert and probably wouldn't fully appreciate the awesomeness of NKOTB. We're not judgmental at all. But we quickly adjusted and got tickets to the June 17th show in Chicago because at that time it was the closest one too us and also? Chicago=deep dish pizza and shopping on Michigan Ave so ummm, YES PLEASE. This time instead of just the 2 of us, Annette's high school friend Robbin, went with us. A little background on Robbin, she and Annette were of driving age and out of high school when NKOTB were big so instead of only living out their Step by Step dreams through a tape player and Tiger Beat posters on their ceilings, they actually followed them all over the country and saw them in concert MANY MANY times. My heroes. I loved listening to all the NKOTB stories the 2 of them told on our trek to Chicago. I also loved reminding them that while they were doing all of that I was 10. ;) But really, I was just honored that these 2 experienced NKOTB groupies would welcome me into the fold as they did.
Finally, after 7 months of anticipation it was here! We let Robbin drive for a couple of reasons 1) she's very familiar with Chicago meaning she was much better suited to get us there safely 2) you've heard the stories about my leadfoot and my unfortunate run ins (literally) with the bank drive thru and 3) her little Ford Escape was much more manageable on the streets of Chicago than Annette's and I's Princess Mobiles that would take up an entire city block.
Robbin's parents live a little more than halfway between here and Chicago so we drove to their house and spent the night on Thursday before the concert. Having never met Robbin's parents before I wasn't sure what to expect. I figured since Robbin was their daughter (and Robbin is awesome) that they couldn't be all bad. I was ill prepared they were beyond awesome. Robbin's mom was THE hostess with the mostest. Not only were there fluffy white robes hanging on the back of the bedroom door but she had a full breakfast buffet complete with pretty china and glasses laid out for us the next morning. Over breakfast she shared with us her love of Donnie Wahlberg's show "Blue Bloods" and asked us to ask him how he goes from acting like a cop to singing and dancing for thousands of screaming women. She was mystified by that. Then after breakfast she gave us all our own pepper spray and right there in the driveway, gave us a lesson on how to use them, making sure to tell us to NOT spray into the wind because then some could get in our eyes. She was hilarious and sent us on our way with full tummies, pepper spray, and a coupon for gas at the local gas station. Now THAT my friends is hospitality!
Also, she had trees that looked like lollipops and that certainly didn't hurt her case any.
I mean, have you EVER seen such a thing? Adorable. They are called Korean Lilac on a Strand, for you gardening types.
We arrived in Chicago a little after noon and immediately upon pulling into our hotel's parking lot we saw this..
That's when we knew we were in the right place and in good company!
Then we did the only thing you can do in Chicago when you get there around lunchtime...we ate pizza and photographed the whole event. Because if you don't have a picture of it, it didn't happen. Words to live by.
Then we walked along Michigan Ave and pretended we were the girls from "Sex in the City" except it wasn't New York City and there was no sex and we weren't wearing high heels. But a nice man did call us Charlie's Angels so we still must've looked the part. And I took more pictures..
No, we didn't look like tourists at all, why do you ask? OK so maybe we did a little and maybe at one point, Annette said to me, "I understand where your kids are coming from, enough with the pictures." Hahahaha.
After some shopping, it was time to head back to the hotel to begin the daunting task of trying to figure out what to wear to the concert and primping. That only took 3 hours. I tease, it was more like 2 and we were proud of ourselves considering the sheer volume of outfits we had to try on before we each decided on our "concert clothes" or as Robbin kept calling different things that came out of her suitcase "party shirts". Not to brag but we looked GOOD and were so ready for the concert. Then we convinced the busboy to take our picture for us. He was more than happy to oblige.
But it was still to early to head to the venue so we went downstairs to the hotel restaurant and bar. I tried to play some New Kids music on the jukebox but the bartender actually walked over to the jukebox and TURNED IT DOWN SO YOU COULDN'T HEAR IT halfway through the first song. The nerve. Some people are just so consumed with jealousy that they themselves are not a New Kid that they can't even bear to listen to them, the bartender was one of those sorry souls.
Finally, it was time to head towards the United Center for the culmination of 7 months of anticipation and planning. THE UNITED CENTER! Sidenote: When I was black ('92-'94) and even a little bit before I was black, I LOVED the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen in particular and one of my lifelong dreams had been to go to the United Center to see them play. While that dream was never realized, going to the United Center to see New Kids on the Block would definitely do.
The best way for us to get to the United Center was by cab because it was too far to walk and not worth the hassle to drive. We left the hailing of the cab to our experienced city girl, Robbin, and sure enough she stepped up to the curb, flipped her hair,struck a pose and within seconds a cab came to a screeching halt at the curb. Well done, Robbin, well done. Of course I took a picture...I mean, who would I be if I didn't?
Our cabbie did not stink, understood English, and was actually kinda cute. His cuteness made up for his driving. We held hands and prayed "hail Mary's" (and none of us are Catholic) in the backseat as he manuevered through traffic all the while chatting to us about what we were in town for and then as serious as a heart attack, he asked us if we were visiting from LA?!? LA as in LOS ANGELES. If he only knew that one of the girls he thought was from Los Angeles was a bonified hick who enjoyed petting her cow and throwing chickens in her spare time.
Miraculously we made it to the United Center, unscathed, and picked up our tickets at Will Call. Why would we have tickets at the Will Call office when we bought them 7 months in advance, you might ask? Oh did I forget to mention that Annette had looked on Thursday before we left at where our original tickets were and discovered that they were in the nosebleed section and just couldn't bear the thought of those kind of seats when seeing our New Kids, so she bought 3 more tickets in a much more suitable section, closer to the stage? Because she did. Like 200 sections closer to the stage. We're kind of concert snobs like that. In the end, we had 6 tickets between the 3 of us. Sometimes in life, as the song says, you got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em and know when to upgrade*. (*I may have taken creative liberties with that song but I can assure you Kenny Rogers would agree.) This was one of those times that an upgrade was necessary and well worth it, as you'll hear about shortly.
And the concert hasn't even started yet!
To be continued....