Ten years ago, in the eye-twitch midst of my 19th nervous breakdown, a spoon bent inside my brain and I completely crossed over. Having just lost my record-store job the day after I spent a night in jail for precisely nothing (being so damned cute, I imagine), I decided to pack up all my unused condoms, cracked CDs and teen-mag pinups, throw them over my shoulder in my crampy car and run away to western Massachusetts. And if I was running on (or to) empty, I didn't know it. Why? One fat word: Belinda.

"One hand's just reaching out, and one's just hanging on," she echo-warbled from the car speakers buried beneath the torn Bananarama posters. And I cried myself into a healthy curbside vomit.

Ever since then, I've held Lady Carlisle's broken pitch modulation in unfathomably lofty esteem. She's a bit like my Tootsie Roll: whatever it is I think I see, becomes Belinda Carlisle to me.

Seeing as I've spent the better part of today in Go-Go's 101, scanning through videos and CDs with crackhead-wide eyes in preparation for tonight's Hard Rock gig, my current state of psychological regression is to be expected. But enjoyed?

"We have to hurry if we're going to make it to the Meadowlands Arena before my hair falls and the blow wears off," I casually rip my sweatshirt shoulder. "My mom doesn't know that I took her car, so if she calls your mom …."

"My mom thinks I'm spending the night at your house studying," Jessica smears blue eyeliner across her lower lid. "So we're cool."

Totally enjoyed. There's just one problem: reality. On our way to our plastic fantastic, we've made "plans" to stop by a casual political event for Democratic State House hopeful Scott Randolph at the new downtown coffeehouse, Dandelion. The juxtaposition here is painful (isn't it always) and I don't know if I can be both Belinda and not-Belinda at the very same time. By the time we roll up to the cozy nook, my head has left my body, dyed its hair and resumed its glamorous gallon-a-day vodka habit. I care not about zoning, I care about fun.

Inside, I make my way to a back room with a piano in it, sit down and belt out a tuneless rendition of "Circle in the Sand" as my personal testament to political futility. Because, like, I already ran for mayor. But it's too soon for red-haired beach-moping, so I enter the fray and do the next best thing.

"Mr. Randolph, how are you?" I dinner party. "Tell me. After the third album, when you claimed to have weaned yourself off of the drugs and the party lifestyle, there were nasty rumors circulating about a certain eating disorder. Do you have any comments?"

"Well, I did binge a little," he surprisingly plays along.

Folks, elect Scott Randolph.

Eventually, Jessica and I squeeze our way out of the political pleasantries and back into our embellished garbage bags, belting out sundry Go-Go's gems into the I-4 sunroof breezes. We're in total Valley Girl oblivion, and nothing is going to break the heels off our pumps. Nothing.

"Are you hearing this? Puke! Go back to LA!" my friend Shawn texts me from the Hard Rock, and all of a sudden I'm a 16-year-old in a text panic. He couldn't possibly mean The Go-Go's! It's only 8:15! I try and regain my composure as we speed up the winding ramp to Universal, but inside I just died a little. Turns out that he was referring to the opening act, Stimulator, who reportedly made Rush's "Tom Sawyer" even worse by reminding the world that it existed.

At the venue, Jessica tries to order a vodka and ginger ale (very Belinda) but all the ginger ale is gone, and we set into our trek of finding the zenith of expectation, only to fall miserably from it. One of Shawn's friends tells us that she saw the surreal Jane Wiedlin at TooJays downtown today, and that she was talk-to-herself crazy and distinctly devoid of wrinkles.

By the time The Go-Go's take the stage, I don't even need them. I'm already pogoing and decrying that this is the "best show ever" without even hazarding a gander towards the stage. When I do, I'm inevitably disappointed. Belinda is wearing a black yoga outfit and a manufactured look of permanent surprise ("That ski slope nose used to be an aberration on her face," Jessica slopes. "Now that ski-slope nose is her face"), and from certain angles, my personal goddess of comfortable nothing looks more like Marcia Cross than a heavenly savior. Gina's big. Kathy and Charlotte look almost tragically caught in the rock-chick reunion headlights. And Jane, well, she's crazy. Not just a little bit crazy, but like Siouxsie Sioux crazy, all angry goth chick at 3 a.m. in stained polka dots. When she's not walking in circles talking to herself, she's holding her dress over a fan and airing out.

"Why don't you lick my pussy and get me some drugs," Jessica tries to sum it up, but surprises me all the same.

As we weather the unfolding of the show — mostly Belinda in mommy aerobics mode, patting her legs and doing mock-Pilates moves — there are certainly moments of delight; they do, after all, play their debut album in its entirety. But something is missing — the abandon, the scrunchies, the narcotics — and it's comfortable for no one.

On the way out, Shawn and I almost jump in the giant Universal globe fountain to recreate the "Our Lips Are Sealed" video, but stop against the guard rail, choosing to writhe and look ridiculous, merely misted at a safe distance from the actual water.

Maybe 10 years ago. But not now.

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