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Backstreet Boys or N*SYNC? Your life depends on it.

I was on the way to tennis practice with my older brother, all of 13, when he casually asked me if I preferred the N*SYNC or the Backstreet Boys. I distinctly remember being baffled and terrified. I knew this question would come at some point, but I really didn’t think it would happen this way. I was totally unprepared.

It was really my fault for not having an answer prepared. I just never really cared enough to plan it out and give myself a defensible position. I mean, I wasn’t a mutant; I enjoyed ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ on TRL and thought Nick Carter was a dream (so mainstream). I mostly felt sorry for the slightly unfortunate looking 2-3/5 of each band that never really did more that make weird faces or look pained in the background. I think they were just placed there to accentuate the blonde dudes hotness.

But back to the car. My brother – five years older – had recently stopped finding me exceptionally annoying, much to my own shock. As such, I felt the need to prove myself in every conversation. And this clearly was a huge moment. In classic form, I tried to hide my lack of a position by just going balls out in one random direction. I don’t remember exactly what I said but I know that I railed against N*SYNC. I just went on and on about their plastic-y sound, their smarminess and general all-around lameness. When I ran out of things to say, I looked over at him to see if I’d said the right thing. He was smiling a little.

“Why? Who do you prefer?” I asked, trying to hide my nervousness. He just shrugged and said he they seemed about the same to him.

My problem was that I’d emptied my ‘tween pop obsession reserves on Hanson by the time the Boys and the SYNCs(?) showed up. By that summer, I was already making moves toward my Aerosmith stage. I was a fantastic little weirdo, if I may be so bold. I knew every lyric to ‘Love in an Elevator’ and ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’ by the time I was 12.

Several weeks later, I had almost succeeded in repressing the memory of my performance in the car. Then one morning, one of the other coaches, a friend of my brother’s, let it slip that he’d somehow come up with two tickets to the N*SYNC show and was, in fact, attempting to ask me if I wanted to go.

With the benefit of time, I must firstly say that was a douchey thing for that broad to tell me. She had no way of knowing the depth of my neuroses, but still. Sloppy.

Second of all, oh my God. I felt terrible and knew I was doomed back to annoying little sisterhood. I slunk around him for several weeks and was too horrifically embarrassed to ever bring it up. I’m not even certain I’ve ever told anyone about it. Plus, how unfair was I to N*SYNC? I was such a brute.

I think I’m going to reclaim that moment for myself right now. Healing starts today.

“Actually, they’re both pretty good. I have a mix with a bunch of all of their songs in my discman right now. Wanna get bagels before practice?”

As long as we’re being honest, though, BSB totally nailed it with ‘The One’. That song is airtight.

by Elizabeth Nowrouz

Visit Elizabeth’s blog at

Sponsored by: South of the South

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