What January 28 means to me ... an "ode" to Nick Carter

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Nick in 1995 or 1996
source: nickcarter.freewebspace.com
January 28th will always have special meaning to me. And I'm about to make myself look like an idiot with my explanation ... January 28 happens to Nick Carter's birthday. It also happens to be Elijah Wood's birthday. And January 31st is Justin Timberlake's birthday, if I'm going to be fair about it. I have a knack for remembering birthdays, but I have an even greater knack for finding stupid reasons to celebrate. For example, Nick Carter's birthday.

In the early years of my crush on him, I would sometimes use it as an excuse to bake something yummy, usually a cake. By the time I was in my mid-to-late teens, Nick's birthday was unofficially designated the "strawberry cake day" because the first time I baked a cake on his birthday, I was actually baking with an entirely different reason in mind, but it was a strawberry cake with confetti frosting, and it just stuck. Strawberry cake mix is hard to come by, but oh-so-tasty. (If you're into artificial strawberry flavoring.) Later, I would designate lemon cake to someone else.

Nick at 30; June 10, 2010 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC
After I went away to college, I couldn't bake cakes anymore. I remember one January 28th, I was at school in Massachusetts and we had just had a massive, massive snowstorm. I was alone in my dorm room (I was on campus working while most of the other students had gone home for winter break) and it was a Friday night. I wanted nothing more than to walk to Rosie's Bakery to get a "Chocolate Orgasm" brownie (have these been renamed since I last visited in late 2010? They've vanished from the online menu!), a Walnut Dream bar or a Soho Glob. Of course, by the time I'd conceived of this idea, Rosie's had closed and the only nearby stores that were still open were CVS and a handful of restaurants.

So off to CVS I trekked, in the snow. I rummaged through its snack shelves and settled on a box of White Chocolate Macadamia Mrs. Fields cookies, which I brought home and heated in the microwave and ate, probably while watching Backstreet Boys videos online.

Nick at 31, June 13, 2011 at the IZOD Center in NJ
Nick turned 32 yesterday. I've harbored an on-and-off crush on him since I was 12 and he was 17; "on" for about 8-9 years and currently in hibernation mode. "With" him, I've been through the "hurry up and let me turn 18" phase, through the "I wish I looked like his girlfriend" phase, through the "I have the opportunity to meet him and all I can say is 'holy sh*t' under my breath?" phase, through the "now I'm 20 and he's dating an 18-year-old ... when did I get too old for him?" phase, which eventually turned into a "I can appreciate him from afar and all the good times the Backstreet Boys brought to my life" phase, which I think I've been riding for the past 5-6 years.

I grew up with Nick Carter and the Backstreet Boys, but for the most part, we've gone our separate ways. He always called himself weird, but as a teen, I never believed that a guy so mainstream could be as weird as he claims to be. I was blinded by his all-American looks, I guess. Thanks to social media, now I know that he's much smarter than my parents (and I) ever gave him credit for, he can spell (most of the time), and on top of being a video game nerd (which was obvious even back then), he's a huge computer nerd. And a Japanese culture nerd. From what I can tell from the few interviews I've watched over the past couple of years, Nick has also become a man I never expected him to become: wise, thoughtful, seemingly quite conscientious. I never thought too far ahead back then; I thought 18 was the ultimate prize ... it was the year I'd finally be old enough to legally date Nick (ha!), the year I'd go off to college -- the one thing I'd been working towards all my life.

On tour with NKOTBSB, June 13, 2011

Turns out 18 wasn't all that it's made out to be: it's not the end of the beginning or even the beginning of the end. I never thought the Backstreet Boys would still be together nearly 10 years after I'd graduated from high school, or that I would ever think of Nick as anything but my ultimate crush. Back then, I figured if Nick ever got married, I'd be okay with it because I'd be in a happy relationship myself. I'm not, and Nick hasn't gotten married (yet). I think if we ever ended up in a conversation, we could be friends now; I'm not sure what we would've talked about at 14 and 19, 18 and 23. Life takes on funny paths that lead us down and up to places that (hopefully) make us better, more well-rounded people. Life sometimes also intersects others' paths in ways that seem like more than just coincidence ... doncha think?

For laughs, here is one of my favorite videos of Nick. It's not all that flattering, but it's a classic in my YouTube vault (a clip from episode one of "House of Carters," turn your volume down and don't watch at work unless you work with "French"-speaking sailors):

Happy Birthday, ya weirdo. Thanks for the excuse to eat cake! (Though I didn't ... I did have a Mrs. Fields Ginger Spice cookie ... do I sense a trend forming?)

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