I just celebrated my first birthday as a married woman. But instead of enjoying a romantic dinner with my husband, I was at sea with a long-lost crush who re-entered my life last year. My husband knows about him, and gave me his blessing to go with him on the three-day cruise to the Bahamas. He actually met the guy once, at a club on Canal Street six years ago. He's been supportive of this reunion, even when I came home giddy from a night out with him, or when I flew to Portland, Maine, in March for a spring rendezvous.
My husband says he understands that this man was in my life long before the two of us met. He knows we have history. But more than anything, he didn't mind me sailing off into the sunset with the guy because we weren't alone. Far from it. Joe brought four of his buddies along on the cruise. And a bunch of other women. Two thousand of them, all just like me.
The other man is Joe McIntyre, one of the New Kids on the Block. Yes, that pop group from the '80s. The boy band that begat Backstreet, 'N Sync, and the Jonas Brothers. But this is not a story about being a groupie. I am not a slut, a sad sack, or a stalker. And yet, the most obvious word for what I am—"fan"—doesn't seem to cut it. Fan doesn't encompass the way these five men have influenced my career, my ideas of love, and even my move to the United States.
Growing up in Australia, plenty of women had teenage crushes on American celebrities. Most faded. Only in the most extreme case does one ever marry their heartthrob, a la TomKat. While I didn't end up on Oprah, blushing because Joe jumped up and down on a couch over me, I did wind up in America with the love of my life—my husband—and I wonder if my New Kids-related reveries weren't partly responsible for getting me here.