March 25, 2009

Tearin' Up My Heart: Legendary Friendships

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I was but 11 years young that night when five wholesome hooligans first sung and danced their way into my heart, or when I first saw the Disney Channel special where ’N Sync performed at Disney World. I was immediately enchanted, and when my mom took me to Target the next day to buy some socks to send me in future care packages at camp or boarding school, I made her buy me the tape of ’N Sync’s eponymous album. She protested, mostly because people didn’t buy tapes by the year 1998, but I came out of the store victorious, anachronistic audiocassette in toe-thumbed hand.
For weeks I listened to that tape all the time, backwards and forwards, but mostly just forwards. I was pretty technologically savvy, and I liked to go on the internet and look at pictures of the people in the group. Justin, JC, the gay one, the fat one — who’s name is actually Fatone — and the creepy eunuch with the dreads. Coincidence, I think not. My Nerd King dad was impressed with my technology savoir-faire, considering this was pre-Google Images and I had to do some digging to get good shots of Justin muggin’. But then he got mad at me for printing out these pictures from our color printer, the ink for which costs millions of dollars.
Later on, I was able to share this passion for ‘N Sync-and-not-the-Backstreet-Boys with my friend, Pardis. She took the hobby a step further than I did, papering her walls with pictures from Y+M and Seventeen with headshots of Justin and his Brillo pad hair. She bought the official fan video — you know, the one where they sing “I Will Walk 500 Miles” that Liz Sheldon ’09 and I reenacted at a party a few weekends ago — and forced her mom and sister to go to four shows, including some in which that ho Britney Spears (our home wrecker) opened. Eventually, with our whining powers united, we convinced my mom to go to one too in June. For the rest of the school year, approximately three months, every day at morning recess we’d shout “’N SYNC CONCERT!” and high five.
When the night finally came, the Shoreline Amphitheater was a majestic orgy of screaming girls in hot pants and shameless vendors selling Justin charm bracelets to tweens with too much disposable income. My mom, Pardis, her mom and I wandered over to our seats, sat down and readied ourselves for the show. In our case, that meant peeing our hot pants. In our moms’ case, that meant the doling out of earplugs and probably liquor on the sly. You gotta hand it to my mom: no amount of eardrum-bombardment, pyrotechnics or gyration could keep her awake and she napped the night away. The girl loves to nap.
On the ride home, things got a little tense. I don’t know how we went so long without discussing it, but we started talking about, you know, which one we liked the most/intended to marry. Pardis said Justin. I don’t know how I was surprised. All those days staring at his bleached curlicues from the vantage point of her waterbed (the main reason we became friends in the first place was obviously the advantage of sleepovers at the kid-with-the-waterbed’s house) and I never considered that this Britney Spears-esque home wrecker might try to take Justin from me. By God, I trusted her!
Then, without thinking, I said it. The words that would define me for the rest of my life so far: “Yeah, I love J.C. He’s so cute.”
It was a lie. A bald-faced lie. I didn’t like JC and I never would. His voice is all nasally and his bone structure is weird and he even sucks to this day on America’s Best Dance Crew. All self-satisfied. I hate him as much as I hate potatoes. I was stunned that I spewed such falsehoods to myself and to my friend.
But then I realized, I truly know the meaning of being someone’s best friend. Of hos before bros. Chicks before, you know, Ricks. At the age of 11 I truly showed that this girl meant more to me than some bro-ham from the Mickey Mouse Club. At that point, it may not have seemed all that unrealistic to us that ‘N Sync would stop their tour bus at my house and eat pudding with us while we watch TGIF. And in that potential situation, I’d now relinquish all rights to Justin and have to share a Snack Pack instead with JC. And without thinking, I said it, because my gut told me that I would. At 11 years old, I realized that I am the best friend that any girl could ever have, and the epitome of a wingman.
In my later years, it has come to my attention that you don’t have to help a sister get some lovin’ to be a good wingman.
You can just think it’s funny when I blame the baby that lived in my sorority house for something I spilled. You can, without being asked, return to an unnamed fraternity where I used my spine as a toboggan down their staircase to retrieve my phone, or sit with me for several hours one rainy Saturday to come up with the Top 50 Mixer themes at Cornell, the publication of which was the most glorious moment of my entire college experience. You can sit on a moldy, deflated bean bag chair with me and place southwest chicken subs on our stomachs and eat them without using our hands while watching episodes of the Sopranos. You can tell everyone at a party that your name is “Raul,” just because I dare you to, and subsequently get called this for the rest of college.
Pardis has always been an excellent wingman, and so have several of my other biddies and brohams from California, Choate and Cornell. The most important thing to me in life are my hos and my bros that are equivalent to hos for the purpose of this metaphor. Justin Timberlakes just come and go, but my wingmen with waterbeds are forever.