When I was a freshman in high school, Britney Spears hit the scene.
Like every other 14-year-old girl, I became obsessed.
I bought her first CD and played it over and over again in my room. I used to cut out magazine photos of Britney and then try to copy her outfits. I even waited two hours to catch a glimpse of her at a mall appearance in 1999.
Then her second CD, "Oops...I did it Again" came out a year later, and she exploded pink sparkly fabulousness all over the world.
I was her most devoted fan, attending her concerts and watching her music videos on repeat. My parents even begrudgingly detoured from our trip to New Orleans to drive miles out of the way to attend the Britney Spears Museum in her Louisiana hometown.
I was her BIGGEST FAN.
When I was 16, Britney's website had a writing contest. The short story had to feature Britney as a main character. The first prize was a trip to meet Britney Spears in person.
Hyperventilating, I whipped out a story in less than an hour and mailed it that morning.
In my short story, Britney was kidnapped by a band of wild gypsies during a shopping spree in Beverly Hills. As a private detective, I tracked down the ruffians with Sherlock Holmes worthy skills and saved Britney. Fleeing her ruthless captors, we discovered the gypsies were actually a robotic boy band in disguise, commissioned from another planet to destroy the pop princess in an attempt to take over the world.
I spent the next 31 days fantasizing what it would be like if I won first place in the writing contest. The most logical reasoning was that Britney would immediately think I was the coolest person she'd ever met and we would end up being best friends. I saw no other conclusion.
I was so excited!
Well, I finally got notice from the Britney Spears website. I did not win first place. Instead, I was the third place winner. It was still a huge deal, I mean thousands of girls had submitted a story and mine was third best. But my heart was still broken.
My spirits weren't even lifted by the personal e-mail from Britney's PR lady which said my story had had the most creative plot she'd ever encountered.
Well, then, why didn't I win first place?!?
I wanted to meet Britney!
As the third prize winner, I got a shitload of memorabilia: books, CDs, posters, stickers, and t-shirts.
And when I read the two other stories that outshone mine, I got even more sour. The second place story was well-written, but revolved around a girl who met Britney at a concert. (Ummm okay. Super exciting.) And the first place winner practically cheated by writing a heart-wrenching sob story about a little girl with cancer who spent her single wish from a genie to meet Britney. Even I had tears in my eyes after reading it. (Not fair).
Well, it took almost a year for me to get over my disappointment.
And then when I graduated high school in 2002, both of us evolved into different people.
As soon as I got to college, my taste in music changed. I started listening to indie rock because I was surrounded by it. I spent more time studying for exams and climbing the ladder of my campus newspaper than keeping up with Britney's tabloid dramas.
Even though I'm not the biggest Britney fan anymore, there will always be a little part of me that unconditionally loves her.
Because no matter how hurt or lonely or depressed I ever felt in high school, she made me want to sparkle. And for a teenage girl, sometimes that's all you need.