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Heidi Shaffer, Published February 04 2014

Shaffer: 15 years later, friend’s love for Timberlake was on right side of history

As I puffy-painted “Marry me, JC!!!” onto a threadbare T-shirt, I knew I’d made a better choice than my junior high best friend.

Kristy had chosen to profess her love to Justin Timberlake on the T-shirt she’d wear that week in 1999 to see our favorite band, ’N Sync.

And it appears, 15 years later, she in fact was on the right side of history.

Justin would go on to super stardom with acting gigs, Grammy-winning albums and being besties with Jay-Z. He’d marry a knockout actress, lose the Ramen noodle hair and bring his solo, sell-out tour to Fargo.

JC on the other hand – let’s just say he’s not tearin’ up many hearts.

Ask any millennial whether they were a JC or a Justin, and you already can derive a lot about them. Steer clear if they scoff and claim Backstreet Boy allegiance.

JC wasn’t the “mainstream” choice. He didn’t need to date Britney Spears. He didn’t get all of the solos, and that was OK because he was the handsome, sensitive one. (Don’t worry. I didn’t make it through that sentence without laughing either.)

In fact, every generation seems to have a boy band litmus test.

Asking “John or Paul?” is still a legitimate test of character.

All those New Kids on the Block fans are probably still smarting that Donnie Wahlberg won the longevity game when the clear choice at the time was Jordan.

Just this weekend I followed a couple of tweens at the mall sporting One Direction graphic tees, which admittedly were much nicer than my puffy paint attempt at fanaticism. Like most BFFs, I’m sure one of the girls was a Harry and the other a Liam since it’s friendship doom to crush on the same boy band star.

Back in ’99, part of me must have seen that Justin’s star would outshine the rest of the guys, who were silly sideshow acts in comparison. But Kristy had claimed him first, and I was a friend first and boy band fan second.

I’d received those tickets for my 15th birthday, and looking back, it wasn’t JC I remember from that day. It was the super awesome time I had with my best friend as we attended our first concert without parental chaperones.

The night of the concert we crawled out of my mom’s minivan at the Fargodome clad in our T-shirts.

We snapped pictures with our disposable cameras, maniacally winding the film between shots. These were going to be fantastic photos we would frame and kiss every night before bed.

In reality, those nosebleed snapshots were under-exposed dots of light, a bit like Hubble-telescope captures but of the only kinds of stars 15-year-olds care about. The only photos that came out clear were the pre-show shots of Kristy and I arm in arm and grinning.

Friday night I’m sure there will be many Justin Girls in the crowd. They’re twice as old now and have earned a right to a certain smugness at winning the fandom game.

But I hope they take note of who’s next to them and remember it’s about the experience and not who won. We JC girls are just a little more sensitive.


Readers can reach Forum features editor Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511