Once upon a time before cell phones, in a land 175.75 miles away, there lived a nine-year-old girl named Vicki. She loved reading, dreaming and five boys from near the place she grew up. Those boys, Jordan, Jonathan, Donnie, Danny and Joseph Mulrey McIntyre (DOB: 12/31/72, the youngest of nine kids) could dance and sing. They were a little older and, as such, fascinating. And they were cute.

One magical day, Vicki climbed into a car and traveled a day’s time. In Richmond, Virginia, the boys she had so long loved on magazine covers and t-shirts jumped off those pages and fabric and into real, three-dimensional life. They were dancing in front of her, they were singing and even though she was nowhere near the front of the stage, the one called Joe was even cuter than she’d dared to hope he could be.

Our young heroine, who had yet to even grow into the e that she would add to the end of her name in a few years’ time, did the only things her impressionable mind could do. Scream. Cry. Scream and cry, cry and scream.

I tell you this because that little girl grew up and, on Sunday, saw those boys again for the first time in many years. And when that happened, she realized that a strange thing was occurring.

She felt nine years old again.I did it. I admit it. I screamed my rapidly regressing head off at the New Kids on the Block concert on Sunday night. It started the moment the guys appeared on stage and continued through healthy chunks of the two hours following. I screamed when old dance moves reappeared, when familiar songs were performed and almost every instance in which Joe McIntyre was singing lead vocals or seen on the screens (I always was a Joe girl*). I screamed when “Games” was performed, and I screamed out its rap during the appropriate time. I screamed so much that I had a hoarse voice the next day.

The only tears this time around came from laughter at the beginning of the night. No, I wasn’t laughing AT the Kids, but at the fact that I was there, one of six joining a group of thousands to celebrate the return of guys who made our parents spend way too much money when we were too young to know better. I know better now. That money I spent on that ticket was my hard-earned cash.

And yet it was still SO TOTALLY WORTH IT.

And I realize now that Vicki’s still hanging out in a little part of my heart, wishing Joseph Mulrey McIntyre all the happiness in the world with his wife and new baby…but if it doesn’t work out, he can always give me a call. Especially if he’s going to sing “Please Don’t Go Girl” into the phone.

WHAT? Don’t judge me. YOU THOUGHT IT, TOO.