What was old is new again

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2008

When I was 15, I came upon a box in our basement that belonged to my mom. A quick peek into it had me feeling I had hit the fashion jackpot.

The box was an accumulation of hippie and retro styles from the 1960s and 70s—empire dresses, bell bottoms, bold patterned shirts and, at the very bottom, a string of love beads.

The clothes had been my mother’s companion through her teen and young adult days; several of the items were homemade, sewed by my grandmother.

At that time these fashions were “in” to me and my friends as our piles of teen magazines programmed us to like these trends.

And with permission from my mom, I could hardly wait to show off my new finds in school.

Of course when my aunt caught news of my plans, she teased me unmercifully, asking me why I wanted to look like a ‘70s sofa or want anything to do with platform heels.

To her they were fashion misses (and scars) of her past; to me it was like turning over a new leaf, a breath of fresh air.

‘Old’ is new again…and again

My aunt’s opinion had no bearing on my fashion “likes and dislikes,” once I considered the source. She has always had a soft spot for the polka dots, shoulder pad wearing, hair bands ruling, perms galore 1980s.

Given I was only seven-years-old when the ‘80s nightmare came to its close, the trend horrors of that era were (and are) forever burned into my retinas.

Though I have to admit, out of this dreadful time came a hope for me.

In 1987 while in Kindergarten, I experienced my second ‘bout of puppy love ala a boy band called New Kids on the Block or NKOTB as the older girls I knew called them.

The group was comprised of five guys with smooth moves from Boston, Mass. named Donnie, Danny, Joey, Jonathan and, saving the best for last, Jordan.

Suddenly, Colby Brant, the little boy I had had a crush on since pre-school, was old news.

It took only the first few notes of “Please Don’t Go Girl” to push my mom’s credit card into overdrive. Then came the posters, the t-shirt, the albums and, yes, even the Jordan doll. It was a perfect replica of the real Jordan, right down to the rat tail. Remember those?

What was old is even older

I can’t recall when I got over NKOTB. Somewhere along the way I got tired of Jordan’s rat tail and blue flashing eyes. In 1994 the group went their separate ways.

However, a couple of mornings ago my childhood caught up with me.

A peek at the VH1 channel informed me NKOTB had re-united after 14 years.

Their video for their new single, “Summertime” flashed across the television screen soon after. I couldn’t help but stop getting ready for work and watch, somewhat in awe.

Their appearance wasn’t at all like it was when I was five. All of them appeared to struggle with dance moves and the song lyrics seemed forced and juvenile.

Worse of all, I realized they were trying to bank on the style the second wave of boy bands brought in the late ‘90s (Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, N’Sync).

Then I noticed they were old, and not a “hot” old, but old enough to know better than to act like those boy bands that came after them.

Why couldn’t they have been original in their return to the music world?

It all made me want to find an empty box to put my past in.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.