They're a four-person one-album-hit wonder. You might remember their song, "He Loves U Not." Or you might not. They sang pop, and just announced earlier this year that they're getting back together. Although they created two albums, only one resulted in success--the other seems to have flopped. Maybe the issue was its title: Reality. Reality sucks.
What caught my attention most about them, though, wasn't the music or the fame: it was their pants. Glittery, pretty, all different colors. They shimmered onstage, impossible to look away from. I wanted those pants.
I never felt like I belonged at N.A.M.S. It was a place where the wealthy went. All of my friends dressed well, and it seemed that most didn't wear hand-me-downs like I did, and they all acted so much older. Gabby and her twin sister had smooth dark skin and crimped hair. They were gorgeous and they knew it. They sneered whenever I dared to ask them a question, like, "What's for homework?"
Then there was popular, hott hott hott Radys (like "Radish" I joked with my friends) who was hispanic and maybe the only crush I've had on someone I've gone to school with.
At the time, I think I knew that I was at the bottom of the food chain, but that didn't hamper my self-confidence much--I just told myself that everyone who hated me was an idiot.
One year, there were tryouts for a band or singer or dancers to perform at the school dance. I knew I could sing, and I wanted to try. My mom has been singing all my life, and she has a wonderful voice. It's genetic. Tryouts happened in the cafeteria. It was empty except for a few kids, sitting at a lunch table, watching each group or person try out one at a time. I was terrified. But I reminded myself, I can sing, I'm good. I can do this. If they don't choose me, it's okay.
I sang my cute version of Merril Bainbridge's "Mouth," in my sweet, singsongy voice that was made for pop music (and later, country and blues) combined with my stand-there-and-don't-move dance routine. I didn't win. But I don't remember that knowledge bothering me much. I was too electrified by the anticipation and terror of performing acapella to be letdown. And I knew without doubt that I was brave to have tried.
At the dance where I did not win to perform, I asked Radys to dance. I thought he denied me, and I ran to the bathroom in tears. When I came out, my mom was at the door, waiting to pick me up, but Radys came right up to me and we started dancing. I found out that another girl had asked him to dance just before me. Dancing together meant moving your body while standing in close proximity to your partner. At least that's what we did. Mom waved me on at the door, but I ignored her as I danced the one dance I'd wanted all night long.
Watching Dream made me hope for things I never expected to have or even to want to have. That's how it's always been when I watch a famous band or hear a truly remarkable voice. I don't know how my mom can stand to watch American Idol. When a voice sends chills down my arms, I sense great power and happiness, and then this disolves into desolute need, like being near a hot guy with kissable lips, and I want it, and I know I'll never have it. And then I remind myself that I want the voice, not the lifestyle, so why should I carry so much envy? But do I tell myself that just because I know I can't have it?
It's an interesting conundrum. And maybe one without answer. But one thing I do know? I'm not a famous singer. I'm not even a great singer. But I'm not terrible, and I make my own money, and I have many other passions. And? I can buy those damn sparkly pants if I want to.