A long time ago, long before the zeitgeist revolution of Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and any other informational inception thereof, and right before Elwood Edwards exploded into common Americana with his perfunctory “You’ve got mail”; there existed a growing quandary on the common elementary school playground.
It was 1997, and one could not turn the radio on in their parent’s wood-paneled minivan without hearing a certain song. It was upbeat, percussive, and knowingly white bred—perfect for a rising middle class of self-entitled suburbanite children flourishing under the Clinton regime, pre-“Lewinskygate.”
The song was this: MMMBop.
I was ten years old when I first heard this song, and like all fourth graders with limited capacity for critical musical thinking, I was hooked. It had a catchy chorus, simplistic, and non-thinking. “Mmmbop.”
I never really caught the rest of the lyrics, but not because the lead singer’s diction is awful (which it is), but because the lead singer’s voice is so high.
It was a girl, right?
That was the question on everyone’s lips on the playground. Without direct access to the information super highway, and our computer lab time spent handling floppy disks loaded with Odell Down Under and The Oregon Trail, wild speculation as to the gender of the Hanson singers enflamed the schoolyard.
“I heard it’s two brothers and sister,” Ashley Weegman stated confidently.
“It’s all girls,” rebutted Evan Young resolutely. “I saw their picture on Good Morning America. Bunch of long blond girls.”
“I think they’re just a bunch of boys who haven’t gotten puberty yet,” said Kurt Fidici, the class giant.
We all looked up at him.
“What’s…puberty?” Ashley asked.
“It’s like, you know. When your voice drops and your body changes and you grow hair.” Kurt said, with obvious first hand knowledge.
“Oh yeah. I think my dad had that.” Evan added.
“No. Everyone gets it.” Kurt stressed adamantly, as though he were repeating the words of a child psychiatrist.
“Everyone?” I asked.
“It’s how you grow up.”
And so, fast-forward nearly fifteen years. I’ve now gone through puberty.
I’m on Facebook on a Thursday morning, bumming around on my newsfeed, and this pops up: mystery link. I click it and am taken to a modulated MMMBop, with a trio of decidedly masculine brothers now serenading me in a more digestible register.
Of course, I had learned long ago the truth of their phantasmal genders.
Still, I can't help but wonder...