When I was in third grade, I had only one aspiration in mind for my future.
“Kayla, what do you want to be when you grow up?” my teacher once asked.
I looked up at her and blushed.
“Taylor Hanson’s wife, Mrs. Stackhouse.”
I was obsessed—I repeat, obsessed—with the Hanson brothers. “MMMBop” was my anthem. It was the song I sang in front of my mirror every morning and the song I continued to sing with my friends on the playground during recess.
My friend Kaylie and I were the founding members of the Hanson Club; this club consisted of all the “Hanson lovers” in third grade at Shade Elementary. Those who owned Hanson’s CD, “Middle of Nowhere,” were permitted to join. And gaining official membership was simple: bring us a bottle of your best smelling body lotion with a picture of the Hanson brothers taped across the front label.
Who was the leader of the Hanson Club? I would argue that it was me, but Kaylie took care of the ethical obligations, such as expelling members who liked the Spice Girls.
The Hanson vs. Spice Girls clubs always had a habit of fighting on the playground.
“Hanson looks like a group of girls!” some Spice Girls Club members would tell us.
“Oh yeah? Well the Spice Girls can’t sing!” one of us usually replied.
The bickering would continue until a Hanson or Spice Girls club member would announce that an imaginary Hanson brothers or Spice Girls concert was taking place near the monkey bars.
I’ll never forget the day when my dad came home with a huge smile on his face after a long day at work. With noticeable jubilation in his voice, he announced that he had met Hanson.
“And I got their autographs right here for you,” he said.
When Dad handed me the autographed memorabilia, my jaw dropped.
It was a black and white photograph of three men wearing thick glasses, leaning against their hockey sticks.
“Maybe this is Hanson when they are 100-years-old,” I said, frustrated and confused. “You tricked me!”
“No, I didn’t,” my father said, watching as tears of disappointment fell upon my cheeks and landed on the tiled floor. “These are the Hanson brothers. You know, the guys who played hockey. Real famous.”
I ran to my room and shut the door. I browsed through all of my genuine Hanson memorabilia, from CDs to T-shirts. I just couldn’t believe my dad had mistaken his future son-in-law and his brothers for hockey players.
To make up for it, my parents purchased tickets for me to see Hanson when they came to Pittsburgh a few months later. I remember my mom conversing on the phone with Kaylie’s mom; they were agreeing on times and other important aspects of the trip. Concert day couldn’t come soon enough.
It was one of those “are we there yet?” car rides, and finally we did get there. We arrived at the Mellon Arena and slowly made our way into the venue to see our idols. I remember walking around, buying merchandise and waiting anxiously for show time.
From what I remember, the concert was great. But it was recently brought to my attention, courtesy of Kaylie, that I fell asleep during the show. I told her that Taylor’s voice must have lulled me to sleep. In truth, I think that all the excitement was a little too much for me to handle at the ripe age of 9.
But I get another chance.
Hanson is coming to Pittsburgh Aug. 20. They will be performing at the Carnegie Library Music Hall. And I will be there! I also tried to talk Kaylie into purchasing tickets, you know, to relive the good ol’ days.
When I purchased my tickets last week, I sat down with “Middle of Nowhere” and fondly remembered those elementary school days. I recalled those nights when I purposely took hot showers so I could fog up the bathroom and write “KP + TH” in bubble letters on the mirror.
Taylor is married now. It looks like my chance to marry him has passed, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be at the concert screaming and singing along to all the Hanson songs that are still a part of the soundtrack to my life.
And yes, I still consider myself a member of the Hanson Club. But the Spice Girls Club? Well, perhaps we shouldn’t go there this time around. It’s still a sore subject.
Kayla Pongrac is the daughter of Greg and Maryann Pongrac, Stoystown. She is a student at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.