The Wisdom of a New Kid

It’s no surprise to the people that know me that I’m a loyal New Kids on the Block fan. Before I go any further with this, let me explain:

I went to my first concert with the New Kids in 1990, I was four years old; I was one of the baby fans. While the hormonal teenagers were screaming for the guys, I was screaming because I was genuinely worried that Donnie Wahlberg was going to dislocate a hip from gyrating. I was screaming out of fear. But, these guys were my knights in shining armor (if you are really a New Kids fan, you would pronounce it with a Boston accent “knights in shinin’ ahmah”).

So, as a loyal baby fan, I would watch their music videos religiously. They also came out with these behind the scenes home videos of when they were on tour. Those home videos I still have memorized by heart and it was with those videos where my family first started to get inclinations that I was going to perform. I would try to mimic the guys Boston accents and would walk around, as a four year old, saying “Yo, I’m from Dorchestah”. Dorchester is the city in Boston where four of the five guys are from. And me being a little Italian Clevelander walking around saying that, well, was weird.

In one of those home videos, Danny Wood remarked about trying new food. He said “my mom always said to try it, I might like it, so I’ll try.” This raised a huge red flag with my grandfather who didn’t catch the context and thought Danny was talking about drugs. Remember, this is 1990 and there was the Nancy Reagan initiative to “just say no!” But for some reason that part of the home video has stuck with me, even to this day.

Ever since I was a child I would not like to try new things. I wanted to be perfect at everything I did, and if I wasn’t perfect at my first try, then I didn’t want to be bothered. It’s easy to see that that mentality is not healthy and I’ve tried to be conscious of it as I’ve gotten older. I had that mentality when it came to tap dancing, soccer, flute and even writing to some degree.

In 2008 the New Kids on the Block got back together and the emotions that I felt were indescribable. My cousin and I spent some of our savings and bought VIP tickets to meet them when they came to Cleveland. As we stood in the hallway before entering the room to meet the guys I felt like a four year old girl again. The door opened and there they were, my knights in shinning armor. They were like Disney princes to me and there they were, in the flesh. I hugged each one of them, told them how excited and nervous I was. We took our group picture and left the room. As I rounded the corner I fell forward crying hysterically. My cousin and a bunch of random women just grabbed me and said “girl, I know!” We were ushered into another room for some appetizers and drinks before we took our seats. Donnie came in and I grabbed for him. I said “Donnie, I’m an actor and one day we are going to work together.” In a very suave Donnie Wahlberg move, he grabbed my chin, looked me in the eye and said “you better make it happen”. Again, I fell forward and cried.

As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I take so many lessons from my childhood and see how I’ve applied them to my life. The “try it, you might like it” is the one I’m working on now to try to broaden my horizons and break out of my shell. It’s scary and uncomfortable at times, but I have to try.

Not all great wisdom comes from a self help book or a guru. Sometimes the biggest and best lessons in life come from unexpected sources. For me, a lot of them have come from five guys from Boston who taught me that I do, in fact, have the right stuff and know how to hang tough!

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Michelle Sabato

Michelle is an actor and writer who was born and raised in Cleveland’s Little Italy. Some of Michelle’s hobbies include: reading, writing, film and carrying conversations solely made up of movie quotes.

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