most likely to stalk a girl pop star.

when i was a freshman in high school, i bought one more time. it's time to admit that. i remember watching britney's video in my bedroom. i remember thinking, it's about time somebody capitalized on the whole catholic school girl outfit. i mean, it was '98. what the fuck took them so long? my eyes were glued to the screen every time that stupid video aired. give me a break, i was fourteen.

it really wasn't my thing. i had already grown accustomed to my set rotation of hard rock, whiny and alternative bands. i wasn't supposed to buy a sugary pop record about love and shit. there's a song called "email my heart" for christ's sake. i remember standing near the counter, though, at dimple records, with the cd in my hand. "are you really gonna do it?" my cousin asked me. "yeah," i said. i knew i hadn't been brainwashed, but i felt like i had been brainwashed. i had to own that album.

i played the album a lot, especially when my friends were around, as i knew it annoyed the shit out of them. they were already sick of me playing my punk and whiny rock records, now i was taking it to a whole new, horribly irritating level. "she's hot," one friend would say, "but that doesn't mean i have to listen to it." "what the fuck is this?" another friend said, "this is stupid! turn this shit off!" it sort of became a new thing, and i slightly enjoyed it. even at fourteen, i liked pushing the envelope, seeing how much my friends would be able to deal with.

it didn't end with britney. all throughout high school, i bought just about every girl pop record i could find: m2m, the a-teens, dream, you name it - even some obscure girl pop band i found in the dollar bin at amoeba, a band called the pump girls who sang about diabetes. b*witched was my favorite, and i was mesmerized by their hit song, "c'est la vie." i knew it was wrong for a boy my age to like such nonsense, but i think that knowing that it was wrong just made me get even more into it.

i even went and saw a lot of these groups with megan, the only friend who wasn't too embarrassed to accompany me. she liked the music, too, i think, but probably she liked the absurdity that i was more into girl pop than she was. by then, i was seventeen, and i had a b*witched t-shirt. i wore it to an all (pop punk band) concert once. at the all show, some random girl asked me, "are you wearing that as a joke, or because you really like them?" it was a mixture of both, but really, my life was the joke, so i said, "i really like them."

things reached a whole new level of weirdness when my friends george and pete bought me the dolls of these pop stars. at the time, i was into collecting toys, stuff like x-men and simpsons figurines, so when these dolls came out, they bought them for me. i can't imagine what my family must've thought when i opened up them on christmas eve. imagine a seventeen year-old kid opening up his christmas presents, and suddenly, he's holding a britney spears doll, sporting her catholic school girl outfit. and then the plastic lynch twins all covered in denim.

i taped a b*witched performance on the disney channel once. when my friend dong came over, i made him watch it. he must've been stoned out of his mind because he sat through the whole thing. he didn't complain or ask why i was into something so stupid. the only comment he made was during the song "rollercoaster." "i could never do that," he said. "do what?" i asked. at that point the girls had gotten into a straight line and moved from side to side, extending their arms, as though they were riding a real rollercoaster. "dance like that," he said, "and just look hella happy." now that i think about it, he had to have been stoned.

what a joke i had been to people who knew little about me. in high school, my "most likely to..." was written as: most likely to stalk a girl pop star. part of my senior quotation was: "i know we're gonna get there someday," by b*witched. when my friend jeff read it in the yearbook, he said, "man, you really don't give a shit, do you?" it was the biggest compliment i got in high school, and i was pretty proud of myself. "no," i said, "i really don't." most of my classmates quoted some poet or philosopher. how fucking original.

by the time i got to college, though, i realized i had to grow up and put away such foolish things. i sold the girl pop albums, donated the dolls, and all the britney posters came down. was it just another thing i did to make myself look weird, to alienate myself from my friends even more? was i so unhappy that i actually enjoyed hearing over-the-top, radio-friendly pop songs? was it just another case of sex selling itself?

sometimes, i just don't know, man. i don't know what the hell i've been doing.

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