Shannon Told Me to Write This

Yesterday, we went to Manhattan to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. Shannon, the daughter who regularly scours my blog posts to see how many times her name is mentioned, as opposed to her sister’s name, Maggie.

Maggie Maggie Maggie Maggie. Anyway, this is not about Maggie, since it’s not Maggie’s birthday. Maggie’s birthday is in October. You can read about it in all of the posts that mention Maggie. There are so many.

This post is about the Other One. The Second Child. She’s turning 13 on Christmas Eve. It’s tough to celebrate a birthday out in the world on Christmas Eve, so we usually make plans to celebrate it early.

Some time in October, This Second Child told me that some YouNowers she follows were coming to NYC for “an experience”. I had no idea what YouNow was, nevermind who these boys were. So she schooled me. Apparently this group of teenage boys lip sync, make videos and post selfies all day long for throngs of pre-pubescent fans.

It turns out they are just a bunch of regular kids who have a really good publicist. Someone is brilliantly riding the wave of their very new-found, probably short-lived flash of fame, in order to make some college tuition cash-money.

They have also somehow partnered with SAVE, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, further fueling the interest of angsty hormonal teenage girls and social justice warrior princesses.

Needless to say, I was not completely looking forward to the “experience” but The Girl really wanted to go. She asked a friend whose mom happens to be a Sistah of mine, so it was some consolation that we could bear the pain together.

I bought the tickets on line and the countdown began. 40 days until I meet Hunter! 35 days ‘til we go to NY to meet Brandon! 32 days… 31 days… One month!

Every day. Several times a day. On and on, ad nauseum.

The day finally came. It was a warm December day, in the warmest of Her 13 Decembers. She had tried on four outfits and five different pairs of shoes before settling on an ensemble for the Meet & Greet. We headed out to the big city. Forty minutes later we were looking for parking near the venue when Madi, her friend in the back seat said “Who has the tickets?”

Shit. I forgot the tickets.

“Mom! No way! Oh my god. What are we gonna do?”

But, what a wonderful day and age it is! After the initial shock, and the calming of a panicked pre-teen, we realized that we could go to Staples, access my email, print the tickets, and save ourselves a trip back through the Lincoln Tunnel. Whew!

Crisis averted. Tickets printed. Lunch in the city. And at 1:30 we’re standing in line with 100 teenage girls, 25 moms and 3 dads, waiting for “the experience” which begins at 2:00.

While we stood on the city street under the rented spotlights, a boom mic passed over us. People kept stopping to ask us what we were in line to see.

Um. Some YouNowers.
Some kids who are on YouNow.

No one who asked knew who the boys were. Most of them didn’t even know what YouNow was. We were part of an elite exclusive group! A group of lucky girls! And a group of suckers who had paid an exorbitant amount of money for their pre-teens to have an exciting “experience”.

So we waited. For 30 minutes. I walked to the corner to get us coffee. And we waited for another 30 minutes. Then they led us inside to a hallway. Where we stood, and waited, for another 30 minutes.

At 3:30, 90 minutes late, they corralled us into the elevator 10 people at a time.

We were led into a large suite on the sixth floor with huge windows, hardwood floors, tin ceilings and chandeliers, a table of merchandise off to the side. All of the girls stood crowded against a small stage. The parents sat in plastic chairs around the edges of the room. There were a few round high top tables. I walked up to one and I spoke to the other parents.

Is there a bar?
They all laughed.
I wasn’t joking.

Suddenly the girls let out an ear-piercing scream. It was like John Lennon had come back from the dead. There were two boys on the stage. Identical smiling twins. They high-fived the screaming girls. They grabbed cell phones from the crowd and took selfies. They pulled girls up on stage, hugged them and took selfies with them. The girls screamed. Some music played. The boys lip-synced. The girls all sang along, one unified voice. All the while the boys were grabbing phones, taking selfies, handing phones back.

Second Daughter, who was too small to see beyond the head of the girl in front of her, had hopped onto Madi’s back so she could see the “show”.

Then the boys left. Another communal scream and two more boys appeared. More selfies, more hugs, more lip-syncing. Everyone Hit the Quan. There was Whipping and Nae-Naeing. There was crying. There were hysterics. At one point someone even fainted.

Then those boys left. Two other boys came on stage. I think. I stopped paying attention. I was talking to moms and dads about how they really should have a bar at their “experiences” in the future.

They seriously should have a bar.

More selfies. Dancing on stage to half songs. Screaming. Screaming. A giant scream. Then all 6 of the boys were on stage together. One of them decided to crowd surf. He apparently thought it would be a good idea to jump out onto a group of 12-year-old girls. It didn’t end well. He crawled back on stage to take more selfies.

Then they all left. The “experience” was over.

In every corner there was at least one overwhelmed sobbing teenage girl. The producer, a man who could not have been older than 25 himself, told the girls to form a line for the Meet and Greet.

This Meet and Greet, cost an extra $25, by the way. The girls clumped around the stage, screaming, much like they were during “the experience”. One at a time the girls went up onto the stage, hugged each boy, said something to each boy, and took a selfie with each boy. This continued until the young producer realized that they were way behind schedule and there were people waiting downstairs in the hallway for the second “experience” of the day.

So the girls were asked to move faster. They were hurriedly shuffled along. Some of them didn’t get to take photos with every single boy. Sounds of “That’s not fair” and more crying ensued.

Luckily Birthday Girl had the chance to get a photo with all of the boys. She even got a proposal from her favorite of the bunch. She was exhilarated. Invigorated. She had spent the day with her people.

We decided to wait for rush hour traffic to die down, so we walked around the outdoor Christmas market in the warm December air. We were enthralled by the crafts and the crowds, soaking up the spirit of the season. And our girls were so happy. They were glowing like Christmas candles.

On the ride home Daughter Number Two and Madi talked about the “friends” they had made in the crowd. They rehashed every moment of the “experience” in painstakingly precise detail. They went on and on and on…

“We’re going to be hearing about this for months”, my Sistah said.
Yes. Yes we are.

What a fantastic day! What a wonderful “experience.”

Happy birthday, my Shannon.


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