The Great NKOTBSB Caper

Where I come from, you plan. You plan well in advance. You put things on the calendar and watch as the days tick by until the planned-upon date arrives. This is how I was raised, and I like it that way.

Dare I say, I want it that way? (Cue Backstreet Boys beat.)

For months, I was aware of the fact that the newly-formed mega-boyband NKOTBSB, New Kids on the Block plus Backstreet Boys, would be playing Phillips Arena in Atlanta on June 22. And for months, I dutifully shunned a ticket purchase. Surely I could pass on an Atlanta concert coming right on the heels of my NKOTB cruise. No way would I do that, so soon afterwards. I mean, come on. (Some of you…you know who you are…cannot comprehend why I would deny myself. Others of you…you know who you are…think I am weird for even having this dilemma. I can’t win).

My chosen course of action, whatever fallout may come, was to pass on the NKOTBSB show.

Up until June 22.

On that morning, like a bug drawn to a fluorescent zapper, my mouse somehow clicked on Stubhub.com, and my brain mechanically noted that there were some good deals on tickets the day of the show, and my mouth told my hubby that I changed my mind, and my ears heard him say that he fully expected me to, and my fingers robotically dialed the number of my friend Maggie, who I thought might drop everything to come with me. I was right. The trigger was pulled on the tickets at 2 p.m. That’s 4.5 hours before showtime. We live almost 2 hours away.

Madness! What happened to buying tickets nine months in advance? What happened to the calendar? What happened to…I just did this last month? Zapped.

maggie and meI may have prepared a fabulous crockpot meal in record time for the fam. I may have scrambled to get the house and kids cleaned up before our ETD of 4 p.m. I may have climbed into the swagger wagon with Maggie and trekked it to Atlanta, laughing and chatting all the way. We may have awkwardly navigated our way to the Stubhub ticket pickup office near the arena, and run in to get our orange envelope like a Mission Impossible team. We may have been swept along in a sea of humanity on our way in to the arena. And we may have settled into our surprisingly good seats with 15 minutes to spare, quite proud of our efficiency.

Or it may have all been a dream. I am still trying to decide.

At any rate, Maggie and I happily be-bopped and sang through the whole show, in the midst of a crowd of 20,000 women and (true to form) about 4 guys. The New Kids and the BSB’s traded up the spotlight for most of the show but came together on a few numbers. As an NKOTB purist, I was admittedly skeptical of the marriage between the two groups from the outset. But I witnessed that night why the uniting of both “families” was actually a pretty smart move. The atmosphere was electric. Out of respect for the row of six younger BSB fans behind us, we cheered along with them, and laughed in amusement at their shrieking hysterics whenever Backstreet Boy Nick Carter ran over to side of the stage closest to our section. (Of course, our shrieking hysterics have evolved over time into much more controlled behavior. We are certainly the epitome of maturity, as evidenced by our presence at such a distinguished event.)

I was delighted to be reunited with my cruise buddy Jessa, who was seated down on the floor in front of me where I could spot her. All night long, she craned her neck to turn, smile and wave at me up in the stands, presumably to make sure that I was still breathing at various moments, like when Jordan Knight’s falsetto soared up to the high note of “I’ll Be Loving You Forever.” Returning the favor, I looked down there to check on her during Joey McIntyre’s melodramatic run to the end of the catwalk, where he fell to his knees, and shamelessly milked the end of “Please Don’t Go Girl” a capella, as if everyone there wanted the song to last all night. And they did.

On one final note, it is difficult to describe what a crowd of 20,000 females chanting “Oh oh oh oh oh…the right stuff!” an octave higher than the original key sounds like. It’s almost like yelping. The visual memory of 20,000 fists pumping the air, synchronized to each “OH,” and the auditory memory of deafening yelp-singing is forever seared in a special place in my brain reserved for awesomeness.

Maggie and I made it home by midnight, right under the fairy godmother’s deadline. Thankfully, the swagger wagon did not turn into a pumpkin somewhere on I-85. The next morning, I was back in Cinderella mode…bleary-eyed, making breakfast, trucking the kids to swimming lessons and haircut appointments, but all things considered, not too much worse for the wear.

Every now and then, being spontaneous is super-duper fun.



step by step

phillips arena

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