I Was The Most Popular Kid In Middle School For Two Whole Days Because I Met New Edition In 198__
In case you've been living under a rock, you've heard about BET's recent three-night miniseries about the immensely popular R&B band, New Edition. I saw many of my Facebook friends posting comments about the show as they watched it, and from what I gather, it was amazing and there were plenty of great acting performances and plenty of terrible wigs. Yassss, thank you Tank!
Listening to the smooth sounds of one of the band's biggest hits, "Can You Stand The Rain", made me close my eyes and reminisce about the nostalgia the tune brings up ... nostalgia about the time I got to meet the band, thanks to my father!
I won't tell you the exact year it happened, because I am currently in a midlife crisis, and I refuse to believe I am anything younger than 29 years old right now. Just go along with me anyway, as we go back in time. (Warning, this is kind of a long story.)
Let's go back to the time I was in the 6th grade at Caldwell Middle Magnet School, in Nashville, Tenn. (it was renamed Meigs Middle Magnet School soon thereafter). Anyway, I was a complete loser in the sixth grade, because believe it (or not) I was one of the most geeky, lanky and notoriously unpopular kids in the school. At least I was, until I was the only kid in school who could boast that I got to meet the VERY popular band, New Edition.
This wasn't some make-believe, "alternate facts" type of proof, I had actual photographs!
You see, my father, Herschel Lee Cosby Jr. (R.I.P.), was a well-known photographer at the time in Nashville, and he had his own studio in the heart of downtown, Cosby Studios. He took pictures of everyone, from local budding congressmen, to debutante balls, lavish bar mitzvahs, private functions featuring Bill Cosby, to snapping pics of hometown hero and talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, and my father was even hired by record execs on Music Row to stop by take pictures during their recording studio sessions.
On one recording studio session, he was asked to stop by and take pictures during the visit of a high-profile national recording artist group. They were in town working on a new song, "Once In A Lifetime Groove", for a box office movie that was being released that year, ("Running Scared", starring Billy Crystal, Gregory Hines, Christian Slater, and Jimmy Smits).
My father, like a lot of parents at my school back then, would pick up his kids after school every day, which for him included my brother, Lee, who was in kindergarten, and then he would pick me up and take us on his various photo shoots around town. This particular fateful weekday pickup was no different, except that when he picked us up from school, he said that we could not tell a single soul about what we were about to do or who were about to go meet.
Although we hated each other at the time, my brother and I commiserated on the ride over and rolled our eyes at each other (in the usual child fashion), lamenting how stupid it was that we had to be going on yet another boring photo session after school. My dad parked the family van on a street in Music Row, and Lee and I got out of the car and complained to him about how tortured we were as his kids. I remember him telling me that soon, we would be thanking him for being such a great father. Little did we know that our scowls would soon turn into smiles. We were all about to meet five guys named Ronnie, Mike, Ralph, Ronnie, and Ricky -- the guys from New Edition!
To give you some context, New Edition, at that time, was the HOTTEST band in the country, with hits like, "Candy Girl", "Is This The End", "Cool It Now", "Mr. Telephone Man", "A Little Bit Of Love", "N.E. Heartbreak", and many more. Bobby Brown had JUST left the group, so they were the talk of the gossip town. I was star-struck when I met them, and I immediately thought this meant it was my destiny to marry Ralph Tresvant.
All the kids in my middle school were huge fans of New Edition, so when I showed up to school the next day and told everybody at lunch that I had that I had met them in Nashville, absolutely no one believed me. My father felt sorry for me, so he developed the pictures my brother and I had taken with the band and gave them to me. He told me to go forth and conquer that damn middle school, and so I did.
Two weeks later, I had physical, photographical proof (real word?) that I had indeed met the band of the decade. I showed a few kids in my homeroom class, and before you know it, word got around to everyone in the school. The most popular kids in school (they were in the eighth grade), who never gave me the time of day before, were suddenly stopping me in the hallway asking to see my pictures of New Edition.
Those pictures are long gone, and I wish I could go back in time to find them and lock them up in a time capsule, but I promise you those pictures existed and I promise you that for TWO WHOLE DAYS, I was the most popular person in the entire school (which means that I know what it must be like to be Beyonce, and by proxy, that means I am ONE degree from Beyonce)!
And I owe it all to NEW EDITION!