The year was 1997. I had not yet discovered my own style and I shudder to think of the hairstyle I was sporting at the time. Probably a shoulder length bob in my natural colour (perish the thought!) I was stuck somewhere between the dork I had been at primary school and the rebel with too many causes that I would become at high school. I firmly believed that I was destined to become Australia’s first female Prime Minister. I had a cat named Pepa (perhaps this ridiculous spelling was some indication of my fierce ‘individualist’ streak yet to emerge). And I was totally, passionately, completely in love with Hanson.
During the week I held the position of form captain of 7B – there wasn’t much responsibility with this role but I did like the badge. On the weekends, I would wake up early to watch Rage and then Video Hits and hand on every word of those young brothers with the luscious locks. My friends and I would pool our meagre resources to buy ‘Smash Hits’, Samboy salt and vinegar chips and raspberry lemonade. Sometimes even chocolate ice cream. We’d spend hours watching, listening and dissecting the significance of the slightest flick of hair or the possibility of hearing Taylor Hanson breathe in (how very normal and yet so exotic and intoxicating?) during the ballad ‘I will come to you’. From beneath our poster covered walls, we dreamt up impossible scenarios of meeting our idols, them falling instantly and inexplicably in love with us and we’d all live happily ever after. Of course we all loved Taylor, but if push came to shove, I was prepared to marry any of them, such was my devotion.
We memorised the lyrics and divided the posters evenly between us. Clearly Hanson were the most coveted, but Human Nature, Backstreet Boys and Savage Garden were also quite acceptable. We’d listen to the cds – still quite a novelty and a world away from the on tap information the teenagers of today enjoy – on repeat to the frustration of our collective tribe of brothers and cap the night off by watching Freddie Prinze Jr movies.
Hanson, and to a lesser degree the other boy bands of the 90s, were our lives. We treasured every morsel of information we unearthed in the best way we could, pre social media. To be honest, I’m glad I lived in that far away place before the advent of Twitter, Facebook and the internet at large. This gave us so much more time to wonder, to dream and to while away our salad days with our innocence protected from the ravages of the information superhighway.
Something happened. I can’t remember the exact moment or what it was, but Hanson slowly but surely slipped off the radar. Replaced by real life boys, Greenpeace petitions, dreadlocks and of course new bands. Yet they failed to elicit the same kind of response Hanson did. Our first real love. As I morphed into that teenager with too many causes, I died my hair, dressed in black, pierced my thumbnail and discovered Machine Gun Fellatio. I must have decided to eradicate the boy bands of my youth to the dark recesses of my mind, because surely, it wasn’t ‘cool’, and ‘cool’ I thought I now was. And so the next decade and a bit passed. I moved to Melbourne, followed bands around, got a few degrees and a real job. And then…in 2012 the news broke. Hanson were touring. And I just simply had to be there.
Having lost my copy of their debut, breakthrough album ‘Middle of Nowhere’ I used the ease of the 21st century to download it and refamiliarise myself with the content. Listening to Mmmmbop (not sure of the official ‘m’ count) still set off of a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t quite explain, but I loved just the same. It was a chance to rekindle friendships that had been suffering under the burden of distance, lifestyle and the absence of any group of impossibly perfect boys to occupy our thoughts.
I won’t pick apart the night in all its glory – to do so might take away some of the magic, except to say that it was amazing. Beyond my wildest dreams amazing. Whilst I perhaps should have stayed on the raspberry lemonades instead of the Melbourne Bitters, it was definitely a night to remember. And then, fifteen years later, against all odds, I bloody well met Hanson.
It wasn’t quite how I imagined it, not least because we are all quite happily married to other people. We snuck around to the back entrance of the stage down a dark alley and waited for them to come out and greet us, their adoring fans. Perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me, but I swear that there was a light behind the brothers as they emerged from the door and made their way towards us as god-like figures. Let me just clarify, when I say ‘us’ I mean my group of friends and few dozen others who also had the same idea, but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story.
What struck me the most about this meeting was not just that Taylor was even more good looking that he had been, but the years had also been exceptionally kind to Isaac and Zac as well – but that they are really good blokes. Like really. Despite how many thousands of screaming, passionate and maybe a little bit tipsy 20something women they must meet every year, they managed to make each of us feel as though we were important and that they actually cared about whatever tiny morsel of conversation we had to offer. They signed everything that was thrust in their face, posed for photos and throughly wooed us all over again with their southern charm. Personally, I buckled under the pressure. After more than a decade, a few beers and the proposition of breathing the same air as Taylor bloody Hanson, I couldn’t even put together a coherent sentence. But I did manage to get a signature and a hug.
For a brief moment, my childhood dream came true. If I could tell my 12-13yo self something it would be this: you’re ok. And you will be ok and it will all be ok. Just breathe. Oh yeah, and one day, you’ll meet Hanson and it will better than you ever imagined it could possibly be. Even though you won’t have Taylor’s babies. Maybe I’d leave out that last part. It might send the dorky, socially awkward and devoid of style me into a state from which she would never recover.