Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do you remember....or should I rewind

If my 36 year old self could go back in time & tell my 14 year old self that she'd get to spend 5 days on the open seas with her favorite boy band, she'd probably laugh at me. Or screech in delight. Probably both. For the second time in as many years I had the good fortune to cruise to the Bahamas with Jonathan, Joe, Danny, Jordan & Donnie. You may know them collectively as the New Kids on the Block.

(Before the snickering begins, I realize they are no longer new, nor are they kids.)

I had an absolute BLAST on this cruise last year, so I was looking forward to going again. My husband dropped me off at the airport & I was immediately visually assaulted by a group of loud, for lack of a better word, women. They were also going on the cruise. The lovely gentleman at curbside check-in asked me if I was with them, to which I replied "Not technically, but we're all going to the same place." (I'll try not comment on other fans' behaviors/outfits, but I make no promises).

I arrived in Miami around noon, and went to the hotel to meet up with my 2 friends. They arrived earlier than me, so they were already poolside. By the way, it was HOT in Miami. I'm not a fan of the heat, so yeah....

When our room was ready, we dropped off our luggage & went back down by the pool. I'd changed into something a bit more heat appropriate, and felt a zillion times better. Summer clearly still hasn't arrived in Boston, but was in full swing in Miami.

As we were relaxing, I happened to glance to my left. I saw a handsome man walking to a lounge chair, and did a slight double-take for a closer look. I turned to my friends & said "Um, is that Jordan Knight?"

They looked. "Where?"

"Over there, in the black & white cow print looking shorts, blue t-shirt."

It was indeed Mr Knight. My mind started racing, because where there's a Jordan, there's usually a Jonathan. And HE has been my favorite since I was 14. I think I even said I'd lose my shit if Jonathan walked out to the pool. Less than 10 minutes later, he did. I froze. Christ on a cracker, I'm a grown woman & the minute I see him I turn into a 14 year old again. Luckily, I had a book that I was pretending to read, so I managed to keep crazy on the inside.

My friend had the brilliant idea to buy them drinks. We figured one of them (or both) would come over to thank us. We waited, wondering when or if they'd saunter over. Finally, Jordan did. It wasn't the first time I, or my friends, had met him. He was sweet, funny & even a bit shy. Plus, he used one of my favorite British terms (knackered) because he'd taken the red eye in from LA. For those of you not well versed in British terminology, knackered means exhausted.

Jordan sat with us for a good half hour, just chatting. It was very pleasant. He was even gracious enough to take pictures with us, and give us all hugs. He may not be my favorite Knight, but he was a sweetheart. Speaking of my favorite Knight, he maintained his position by the pool & never came over. But I'll forgive him for that.....

My friends & I eventually left the pool area to continue our evening with drinks & dinner. Then, it was off to bed to rest up for Destiny.

We arrived at the Port of Miami the next morning to stand in a massive line. Most of my NKOTB fandom has been spent standing in lines (Rocky Point, Tower Records on Newbury, the cruise, the Backrub....), but if you're a true fan it's all part of the experience. We boarded the Carnival Destiny, dropped off our bags & got some lunch. It's a cruise. Food is a big part of the experience as well.

After a light lunch, we went up to the Lido Deck to claim our spots for the Sail Away party. It was at this point everything hit me. We were on the boat again. I started getting all sorts of happy. Of course, the Mr Rum beverage helped a bit in that department, but he really wasn't needed.

The DJ started playing music & before I knew it, there they were. Let the madness begin!

Our first theme night was 80's Night. We looked ridiculously awesome. We watched the guys participate in NKOTB Double Dare. And not all of them were sober. For the record, Drunk Jon is the best, followed closely by Drunk Joe. This year, it seems, we all got to experience a Drunk Donnie for the first time. Priceless. A few gems from the game show: Jon knowing what a 'pleasure pit' was; Donnie, Danny & Jon sucking up M&M's through a straw for a physical challenge; Jordan commenting that Jon could "suck a watermelon through a hose"; Jon asking "do you get extra points if you suck one with a nut."

When the game show ended, we ran out to the Lido Deck for the 80's party. The guys were all dressed in their outfits from the Hangin' Tough Tour. Amazing. And then they bodysurfed through the crowd. I had a hand in helping Jon & Donnie across. I promise I only touched their arms.....seriously. By 3am it was time to call it a night. The next day was sure to be interesting......

.....because it was concert day. On the island. Not in an air conditioned theater. In the hot sun, at 1pm. Not a fan. But we three boarded the tender to head to Half Moon Cay, with our foam fingers declaring how much we hearted Donnie, Jonathan, and in the case of my other friend, Jordan & Joe. I was also armed with my SPF 100. We watched the concert from the crystal blue water, on floaties. It was enjoyable, save for the minor sunburn on my back. SPF 100, not so much. But I suppose it would have helped if I kept reapplying.

When the concert ended we headed back to the ship to cool off & get ready for the Pajamajam & Toga party. Plus, there was the season finale of Blue Bloods to watch on the Lido Deck, with Mr Wahlberg. Did I mention that the foam fingers would come in handy (no pun intended) at some point? During the show, Donnie announced he wanted someone to go sit with him on the couch in the VIP area. My Donnie loving friend shot up her foam finger and within seconds I hear him say "You. With the hand." Thank goodness she had a couple of Bahama Mamas, because the alcohol enabled her to be very chatty with him. =)

The show ended & it was time to see what the boys would look like in their togas. They all had special, Greek god inspired names. I'd rather not print them here, but just know they were inappropriate & fabulous all rolled into one. We danced, waved our foam fingers & had a most excellent time until the wee hours.

Saturday was a 'free' day. There were no scheduled events during the day, or at night, except for the Pink Night party. The ship had docked in Nassau, so we had the option of getting off the boat, but decided instead to sleep a bit later & lounge by the pool. A pretty low key day, but very welcoming.

The theme for that night's festivities was, as I mentioned, Pink Night. It was to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For those of you who don't know, Danny's mother passed away from breast cancer, so he does a lot for the charity. A group of cruisers even set up a donation page as a surprise for him, to raise money in his mom's memory. I donated a few weeks before the cruise. In the end, we raised more than $11,000. It was a really special night, because it was also Danny's birthday. He was immensely touched by the generosity.

Another long night of dancing ensued. The DJ sort of sucked, and the guys were pissed at him, but once the music situation was fixed, it was quite possibly the best party night on the cruise. As a matter of fact, it was so much fun that we didn't realize it was nearly 4am. And we had to be up early for our meet & greet, with photos, in the morning. Eeeek.

Picture day is always fun. We're tired. The guys are tired. Some are hungover. But we all do our best to look lovely for the one guaranteed photo op you'll get on the ship. And it goes by quick! You need to have a group of 10 people ready to go when you hit the line. Again with the lines.....but more on that later. Luckily, our group of 10 was awesome. We all knew each other & mapped out a plan of how we'd position ourselves next to our favorites. Last year, the guys were sitting on couches, which wasn't that great. This year, they were all standing, so it was much easier to snuggle up to the New Kid of your choice. I walked up and said good morning to the first four, but saved my attention for one Jonathan Knight. That man gives the best hugs. The 14 year old in me was glowing. With the picture finished we got ready to wait in line (!) for Donnie's highly anticipated Backrub. It was scheduled for 3:30pm. I planned to immediately go to the Lido Deck when it ended to see Jon host bingo at 4:30. Yes, I know. But whatever. He never hosts anything, so this was a big deal, OK?

Photo ops were running late, so the Backrub was pushed back to 4:30, and bingo was moved to 5:30. I was still planning to go to bingo, so all was right in the world. Then the disorganization began. There was no rhyme or reason to how girls were 'lining up' for Donnie's event. We were all milling about. No staff members knew what was going on, or where the line was going to form. All of a sudden, a massive wall of girls appears, wearing wristbands. My Donnie loving friend took off to find out where those wristbands came from. We were lucky enough to get them, but we were standing on the wrong side of the line. I'm not messing around when I say that some NKOTB fans are brutal. Another group of girls was escorted to the front of the line & people starting booing and yelling. Girls who didn't get a wristband were bitching and swearing. It was a CLUSTER. By 5pm, we were all still waiting and the theater hadn't even opened yet. I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to see Jon host bingo. I couldn't stand in that line all afternoon and just walk away at the last second. That would be pointless. I was in it for the long haul.

We finally got seated close to 6pm. Mind you, I hadn't eaten since early that morning, so I was good & cranky. A lovely rum beverage called Miami Vice helped a little. The show finally started.

How do I describe it? Cinemax After Dark.

It ended at 7 & we rushed to get to dinner before it closed, but we were too late. So we opted for the buffet before the Acoustic Wood and Joe Show. It was Red Carpet night so we were all prettied up in dresses & sparkly shoes. After the show, we went to watch the poker tournament hosted by Donnie. It was fun. Joe came down & did some clever commentary. But how exciting can it really be watching people play cards, honestly? By midnight it was time for the last party on the Lido Deck. And I had a mission.

Remember the foam finger? Well, I decided that it was my goal to get Jonathan to sign it. It could happen. They came down to smaller stages in the crowd & signed all sorts of crap the girls held up. My foam finger was by far more fun than an old sheet or lunchbox.

So, armed with my foam finger & Jon-girl partner in crime, I made my way through the massive crowd towards the small stage he was standing on. I was almost close enough......almost.

Unfortunately I missed my chance at that point, but was determined.

We kept our eyes peeled to see where he was going next. Usually when Jon retreated to the higher deck, he was there for good. But then I heard Joe call out that Jon was walking down the stairs, on the opposite side of the deck from where I was standing. So my partner in crime & I danced our way over to the other small stage. No Jon. We looked & looked. He disappeared! We must have stood there for about 20 minutes before my friend spotted him at the base of the stairs, a bit further to our left. This was it. I made my move.

As I stealthily walked over to the stairs, I could see Jon was getting ready to leave. Oh poo. But some chick threw a t-shirt at him to sign & he stopped. So I got up close and very cutely waved my foam finger so he could see. Next thing I knew, it was lifted off my hand & he was signing it. Success!

By that time, it was nearly 3am and I was very content with leaving the party & going to grab some water & a slice of pizza. We did, and then went back to the cabin for our last bit of sleep before heading home.

But it doesn't end there......

My friends & I said our goodbyes at the Port of Miami. They were off to catch their flight in Fort Lauderdale, and I was heading to Miami International Airport. My flight to Boston wasn't scheduled to leave until 3:30, so I had a few hours to kill.

When I made my way over the gate, I settled down with the book I'd been pretending to read at the hotel when we saw Jordan. I looked up and glanced to my left. I saw a handsome man walking to a row of seats at the same gate I was sitting at. I did a slight double-take for a closer look. It was Jordan Knight.

Was it possible that my cruise adventure would end the way it began, with an unexpected Knight brothers sighting? Because as I mentioned previously, where there's a Jordan, there's a Jonathan. And 10 minutes later, there he was. Several girls around me jumped up & ran over to them. The guys politely declined their requests for photos & autographs. I don't blame them. Poor guys have been surrounded by us for days!

I assumed they'd be in first class, to fly home in comfort. But no. When I got on the plane there they were in coach. Just 6 rows in front of me.

I napped most of the way back to Logan. When I woke up, I marveled at the gorgeous descent we had through puffy clouds. There was even a rainbow. Once the plane reached the gate, I figured I'd seen the last of those two.

My husband greeted me at baggage claim & I was buzzing about the cruise. We walked over to the luggage carousel to wait for my suitcase. And there sitting in front of me was Jordan. This time he was chatting up two very nice girls from Germany who I'd met at the gate. I was trying my best to listen to my husband tell me all about what happened while I was away, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jonathan. He walked over to a small group of girls from the cruise & started talking to them. This was my last chance. I looked at my husband & said "I really want to go over there & give him a hug and thank him for the weekend."

So I did.

I walked over & very politely apologized for intruding on his conversation with the other girls. He gave me a bear hug as I explained that my husband was waiting for me & was slightly annoyed that I'd come over. (He really wasn't, but I needed a good opening line dammit!) Jonathan laughed & asked where he was standing. So I pointed him out & then we chatted for a bit. I thanked him again for the weekend & said my goodbyes. I walked back over to my handsome husband, who was patiently waiting for his wife to re-enter the real world.

He's still waiting....=)

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