If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

Hi! I’m Kiki Mason, and I am a fanchica.

Sounds like something from fangirls’ anonymous, Kiki thought as she looked at the stack of fanzines she had created in her teenage days. The fanzines arrived in the mail from a former member of her fan club in the eighties, Joy Eaton, who was now a social media friend.

Photocopied pages, stapled together to make a little book or magazine, she created with typed articles, song lyrics, and photos cut out of magazines. In the eighties, she called it a newsletter. Today, it would be a zine or fanzine. She laughed at how ghetto it looked. No one would even think about paying for something like that but when she made them thirty some years ago, fans like her paid two dollars an issue.

Kiki had not seen one of these newsletters in person in over twenty years. In a moment where she took a hard look at her life, something people call adulting, she tossed that part of her life in the trash.

Maybe it was a rite of passage to shred the past. The arrival of these old newsletters in the mail was the possibility shredding of Joy’s past. She was cleaning out parts of her old life because she was getting married. It was time to let go of parts of her past. In her teenage days, Joy was a lot like Kiki; a fangirl who loved the boyband, Metro. They shared a common bond. Joy had a fan club dedicated to Metro in the eighties, too.

Kiki’s fan club was not dedicated to just Metro, but for an entire genre of music. Metro just fell within the genre. Flipping through the pages of the newsletters in front of her, Kiki reminisced while her wife sat on the sofa in the other room.

The memories came flooding back as she saw herself with music stars from that era, some of which were now huge celebrities. In the newsletters, Kiki shared photos from the adventures she had with these celebrities, but she did not share all the stories. Those stories were kept locked in a vault inside her mind and heart, only shared with very few.

Where did this world go? She knew exactly when she left that world for a new one. But where did it all begin? Kiki flipped the page in one of the newsletters and saw herself standing next to Rigo Martinez and the other boys from the group, Metro. She smiled. The beginning.

Like most pre-teen girls, Kiki had posters on her walls of her favorite celebrities. For her, she had John Schneider and Christopher Atkins. Dukes of Hazzard was her favorite television show, and The Blue Lagoon was her favorite movie. Not exactly the kind of movie that an eleven-year-old should watch but Christopher Atkins was in the teen magazines, and she had to see every movie of his.

Born in Southern California, Kiki lived with her mother while her sister lived with their father. Kids of divorce; common for the time. Kiki lived in a trailer park in one part of Southern California; Micquel lived in a house on the other side of the city. Kiki’s friends were white-bred and troublemakers, while Micquel’s friends were Latinas and very well behaved due to overprotective Latin parents.

As different as two sisters could be. Micquel was girly with make-up; Kiki was a tomboy on a dirt bike. On the weekends, they saw each other. One weekend, Micquel stayed with Kiki and the next weekend, Kiki stayed with Micquel. It was on those weekends that Kiki felt out of place, especially if their dad had to work.

Kiki had to stay with her sister, who was two years older. If Micquel wanted to hang out with her friends, Kiki had to tag along. What thirteen-year-old did not want to hang out with her friends? Mostly they went to Julieta’s house, which was around the corner on the next street. Julieta was a huge fan of the boyband, Metro. If Micquel’s best friend loved Metro, then Micquel loved Metro.

Metro were five Latino boys, who wore matching costumes to sing and dance. Julieta had posters on her walls of the group and her favorite member, Manuel. Kiki rolled her eyes at all the posters of Manuel when she walked into Julieta’s room for the first time.

Julieta put on Metro’s newest album and began to sing and dance just like the boys. Micquel joined in. It was obvious, it was not Micquel’s first time listening to the album. Kiki rolled into a ball bursting at the seams with laughter.

After about an hour of watching them do nothing but sing, dance, and giggle over the hundreds of pictures Julieta had cut out of magazines and placed in photo albums, Kiki whined to go home.

It wasn’t just at Julieta’s house, Micquel’s world had slowly changed from loving The Muppets and Miss Piggy to boys. Latino boys. Latino boy bands. Kiki watched Micquel’s bedroom turn from a girl’s room with lime green walls to a teenager’s room with posters that wallpapered the room from floor to ceiling. At least it was not Manuel’s face everywhere. It was Rigo Moreno, a curly-haired boy with braces.

“Who’s that?” Kiki said as she came over one weekend and saw a new poster on Micquel’s wall.

“Los Changos.” Micquel replied with a spring in her step. “Aren’t they so sexy?”

“I don’t think sexy is the right word to describe them.”

“Who do you think is the cutest?” Micquel asked with her one-track mind.

“None of them.” Kiki said with a turned-up nose.

“Whatever. I love them all, but don’t you like ‘Rique is cute?”

“Which one is that?” Kiki asked. Micquel pointed to the curly-haired blonde boy. Kiki said, “He looks just like your Rigo dude from Metro.”

“No, he doesn’t.”

“Yes, he does.”

The two of them argued until finally Micquel walked away and moved to the television and put on a video of Metro that she recorded off the television. Kiki rolled her eyes as the five boys sang their song about rain.

By the end of the weekend, Kiki had half of the songs burned into her ears. And she did not even understand one word of the music. It was all in Spanish. And not just those by Metro but also by Micquel’s new favorite group, Los Changos, and a female singer named Judy. Everything was in Spanish. Kiki felt like she was in Mexico, dropped off in the middle of the country with no escape and did not understand anyone around her.

The next morning, Kiki woke up with a song stuck in her head. It was a song she could not sing but she could hum. She shook her head trying to get the song and the visual of five boys on motorcycles out of her head.

During the next week, she attempted to turn on the Spanish television station on in her room to see what was on. There was horrible reception on the UHF channels and no matter which way she wiggled the rabbit ears, she barely got a picture; but there they were.

A recognizable song about rain played and in between the black and white static on the little thirteen-inch television were Xulio, Juan, Manuel, Rigo, and Carlos. Kiki felt a pang in her chest as she could barely make them out, but she knew it was them because of the music.

She hummed along to the songs until the show was over and another Latin television program came out. The television went cold, but the music stayed hot in her mind. She found herself humming to songs she could not sing.

After a few weeks, Kiki convinced her mom to stop by the Latino grocery store in a not so good part of the city. Kiki hopped out of the car, ran in, and found the magazine stand. Almost every magazine had Metro on the cover. She took her allowance out of her pocket and picked up a few magazines with posters in them.

Once at home, Kiki flipped through the magazines and saw a new face standing next to Juan, Manuel, Rigo, and Carlos. Who wasn’t that boy? Not being able to read the article, Kiki skimmed the page for something to tell her. RAUL. His name was Raul.

Kiki placed the magazine next to her heart and screamed, “I’m in love with Raul.”

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