Jul 29, 2011

Sometimes You Can't Go Back—No Matter How Early You Wake Up

There are very few times in life when you are given a second chance. Today definitely was not one of those days. I woke up on a friend's entirely-too-hard couch somewhere east of Central Park. It was raining. It was 5:30 A.M. and we were going to see Debbie Gibson and Tiffany at ABC's Summer Concert Series. I guess ABC defines concert as "three songs played over and over to make sure they look awesome on tv." But anyway, it was free, and it was Debbie Gibson—my childhood hero. The website said to be there by 6 A.M. since long lines were generally expected at these events and the fun would start at 7 A.M. We got there around 7...there were no lines or crowds. But hey! It had stopped raining!

When I was about ten years old, my love for Debbie Gibson was about equal to my love of Bon Jovi, although different. I wanted Bon Jovi to marry me. I wanted to be Debbie Gibson. She was the inspiration for the mural I painted on my wall. She had one, so I wanted one. Although, for whatever reason, I made my mural out of “puffy paint” which was used in the early 90’s to decorate t-shirts. I don’t know why I chose puffy paint. It took years to get off of the walls. I think there were still remnants of it when my dad sold that house years later. I had a similiar hat to Debbie, similar earrings, and similar clothes. I read books on her, did reports on her, I even had a miserable attempt at her “Out of the Blue” haircut. Look it up, it’s fairly awful. (Sorry Deb.)

I had a bunk bed in my room at the time, but only the top bunk, in an effort to create more space in my tiny room. I also had a chalkboard and a microphone. It was actually a real mic that my Dad had gotten me for Christmas and there was an accompanying amplifier, but even at that young age, I was keenly aware of my lack of singing ability. It by no means stopped me, but I saw no need to amplify it throughout the house. I used the chalkboard to draw a sea of faces so that I could pretend I was on stage and that thousands of people had come to see me perform the popular songs of Debbie Gibson. I’d get all dressed up in my Debbie Gibson clothes and sing and dance my heart of to all of the adoring, paying fans. I would get absolutely lost in my fantasy concert world. Kind of like I do now in the car, to the amusement of anyone driving next to me.

Only one month after Bon Jovi and Dad introduced me to the magic of live music, I wanted to see Debbie in concert, and somehow tickets were available last minute to her concert at Brendan Bryne Arena. (Later known as the Continental Airline Arena; later known as the Izod Center.) My Dad had to work, so he couldn’t take me. After a lot pleading, which probably went something like, “My life will be OVER if you don’t take me to this concert!”, Mother agreed to take me. 

We had floor seats; this was going to be amazing. And then, the lights went down and there she was. Debbie Gibson was on stage. She was in the same room as me and for the next few hours we would be sharing the same existance. My little heart was all aflutter.

The concert format in those days was as follows: A few opening songs to get the crowd warmed up; maybe a wardrobe change. Then the lights would kick on and dance across the arena in time with the music. The light show continued to build up until the end of the show. In the case of Bon Jovi, there were even pyrotechnics. “Shot through the heart,” and then BAM! Explosions! Debbie stuck to the light show, or well, I can only assume. 

She had sung her opening tunes and then the lights started. My heart began to beat faster in the anticipation of all of my favorite songs. This was the real show, and it was just starting. That’s when mother said, “Ok Jen, the show is almost over, let’s go. I don’t want to get stuck in the traffic of all of these people leaving at the same time.”

“What?” I was horrified. “It’s just starting! The lights mean it’s just starting! You don’t understand! Look!!! No one else is leaving.”

“Fine, one more song and that’s it.”

How could this be happening? Why was she doing this? Didn’t she understand that Debbie Gibson was on stage right now and I was only a few feet away from her and maybe, just maybe, some of her magic would rub off on me since we were in the same room? She didn’t understand. She held fast to what she said and after one more song she made me leave. I never got the chance to see Debbie Gibson again—until today. 

I remembered at dinner last night that I have a Debbie Gibson t-shirt, which I threw on before heading into the city. We decided to crash at my friend's place, since he lives near the park, and we had to be there ridiculously early. The shirt paid off—I think. During one of the breaks Tiffany looked out into the crowd and said, "I like your shirt." It seemed like she was talking to me. But I wasn't sure. Neither was my friend. So I just smiled. Then she said, "It's okay I have one too." I can only assume she meant, "It's okay that you're wearing a Debbie Gibson shirt, even though I am Tiffany." Therefore, let's assume, Tiffany liked my t-shirt. And I must admit, I was quite impressed with her voice. That woman can rock.

I was excited at the dress rehearsal. At the first site of Debbie I squealed like a little girl. They played one song each and one together. I watched Debbie. I bounced. But then I started to realize, it just wasn't the same; it was weird even. (Yes, 20 years later, I still thought it would be the same.) Maybe it was just that she only played one song, well two really, but the new song doesn't count. Maybe if I had heard a slew of the old classics I would have been more stoked. But Debbie is 41, and I am 31, and it's just...different. I thought I'd redeem that one night that my mother prematurely stole from me so long ago, but alas, no. I will give it to her though, she looks downright amazing. 

and so it begins

Not going to lie...Tiffany rocked it.
Debbie's weird now.
I think I've made this same face when (in college) we would drink many beers and then try to memorize the "Electric Youth" dance from the video, which always included trying to fly off of the couch.
So, as I mentioned, Debbie's weird now (garter belt?). The guy to the left was on tour with her back in the day. I distinctly remember him from all of the Debbie Gibson VHS videos I have. The guy on the right seems to have given up and resorted to waving.
Well hell. I'd be stoked too if I was rockin' out next to a keytar.
Ah, the right dancer is excited again! Or possessed. He has a crazy look in his eyes...

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