Wednesday, December 19, 2007

"Clash of the Choirs: My silent summer with Nick Lachey

I have personal reasons for being tickled by Nick Lachey's choice of Garth Brooks' "Friends In Low Places" for his choir's song on the second night of "Clash of the Choirs," besides the fact that it's highly inappropriate but fun. That song was very popular during the summer of 1992, during which I sold beer under the Eiffel Tower at Cincinnati’s King’s Island amusement park, near which the park's barbershop quartet used to sometimes used to stop and sing. And in that group of straw-hatted, stripped-shirt wearing singers was a guy my sister and I used to refer to as Hot Barbershop Quartet Guy, but whose name, which I never knew at the time, was Nick Lachey.



I figured this out several years ago when 98 Degrees, Nick's former boy band, was about to perform at the York Fair in York, Pa., where I used to work. I was interviewing his brother, Drew, and mentioned that I spent the summer of 1992 in their native Cincy, working at King's Island. He told me that Nick and Justin Jeffre, another future 98 Degrees member, were there that summer, in the barbershop quartet. And suddenly, a memory of a very young Nick Lachey smiling under the brim of a white straw hat smacked me in the head.

"I remember him!" I told Drew. "My sister and I used to refer to him as Hot Barbershop Quartet Guy!"

"Did you know him?" Drew asked.

"Never even talked to him," I answered, explaining that Show People and Food Service people were on two distinct levels of the King's Island caste system. Show People were were up, and food service was somewhere between maintenance and the ride people, although I always felt sorry for the guys dressed as Fred Flintstone who used to get punched by cotton candy-drunk brats.

I called my sister and asked her if she could guess who Nick Lachey had been at King's Island - "Hot Barbershop Quartet Guy?" she screamed excitedly. I also repeated that story about three of four years back to Nick's then-wife Jessica Simpson, who also asked if I knew him and seemed tickled by the story, and slightly relieved that the story didn't end "And then there was the time I made out with your husband..."

If I could go back to 1992, I would walk up to Nick Lachey after he finished singing "Good Night Ladies" or what have you, and just say hi, because the story would be better that way. I would also have asked not to work under the Eiffel Tower, because the uniforms were culottes and an off-the-shoulder blouse that looked like Ghetto St. Pauli Girl. And sweet memories are never made of culottes.

Posted by Leslie Streeter at December 19, 2007 11:30 AM