86,400 Seconds 20

Its not a good thing to keep your back to a crowd.  I learned that on the first day of football back in seventh grade.  Back then getting hit by someone from behind might knock the wind out of you, but as I got older and we all got bigger, the dangers became greater.  Soon it really was important to know your surroundings and watch out for yourself.

When I was playing football and would be standing on the sidelines to go back into the game, coach always used to tell us to keep our eye on the game, not that we weren't already supposed to be watching our teammates play, but also because standing there not watching our surroundings could be almost a deadly situation.  He said it so simply.  It's not what you'd expect to get you when you're standing on the sidelines, it's the stuff that you're not expecting that will knock you off your feet.

Soon I'm facing the crowd again, hands at my sides, eyes scanning the place like I always do.  Justin's getting tired.  I can tell when he sticks his hands in his pockets.  We used to have a sign to each other to let everyone know when it was time to hit the road and leave the camera's behind, but it's evolved into something much more subtle, just the shrug of a shoulder or the movement of his feet into a certain position that shows his fatigue naturally.

"You ready?" I ask walking towards him.  I don't really even wait for an answer, I slip around the far side of him, placing myself between him and the crowd and take the brunt of the yells in our direction as I mess up the photographer's shots of him.

He nods and as he's about to start walking towards the door where Vivian disappeared, he stops to tie his shoe.  Considering that this is a simple act, something that EVERYONE has done a few million times in their lives, he gets a reaction like no other.  People start to scream even more as if he's just won a Grammy.

I don't really know exactly what the photographers are aiming at and that gets on my nerves.  That's the crap shoot with this kind of event.  Later I'm sure I'll get copies of the pictures.  Lynn has a subscription to some online thing where photographers dump their pictures and she collects up everything for Justin's scrapbooks.

She's even started one for me.  She started doing a scrapbook when Justin started to record the solo deal.  She took pictures of him getting on the plane to go to Jive to talk to everyone about the possibility of having a record deal, then there were pictures along the way while we were in Virginia and then when everyone was done with the recording parts, we had a barbeque and she had someone taking pictures then.

Considering that the kid was on TV and in the spotlight for years before he started his solo career, it seems strange all of a sudden for her to keep track of these kinds of things.  She's always been there, through the long shooting days of the mouse club and the long travel itineraries that plagued NSYNC, but now the focus has changed.  I think even Justin realizes it.  He hasn't said anything, but he's more serious about this than he's been about anything in his life.

Hearing the screams, Justin looks up and rolling his eyes he finishes tying his shoe before he straightens up.  At this point in his life he seems more annoyed with the extra attention than anything.  He's known for a long time that this kind of attention is what keeps him in those expensive sneakers he's got on, but it's still annoying.  He crosses his eyes for a moment then straightens up and starts toward the door yet again.

At the door we're stopped for a moment.  I want to laugh at the venue security.  We've scoped this place out and the local guys have been keeping us up to date, but this doorman/security guard is trying to sow his wild oats and throw a little weight around by acting like he knows Justin and that doesn't cut it.

I don't mean to be rude, but I slightly push the guy to the side and let Justin by.  I know I shouldn't get a high from doing that, but the jolt of energy that a person gets from being in charge keeps me in this business.  Abuse of power isn't tolerated, but knowing I can go anywhere and do just about anything really is something that at first took some getting used to and I'm sure will be a shock when it's gone.

When it's gone?  Where did that thought come from?  I know I've been thinking about getting out of the business, but to actually have that thought come to mind while I'm working isn't safe.  It's not a good attitude to live with, let alone work with.

VIP is to the right and I can see Jayden standing in the booth between Lynn and Paul dancing on the chair.  She knows better than to stand on the seat, but I guess with the music and the excitement of the time she's having a little bit of a wild ride.

Flashes of pictures of Drew Barrymore at age seven right after ET came out partying in Studio 54 come to mind.  The girl had a drug and alcohol problem by age twelve and I'm trying to picture at Jayden at twelve and a frightening view of her is coming to me.  I immediately start towards VIP.  I know that she won't get anything since Lynn and Paul are with her, but that overprotective part of me still wants to go over and check on her.

Justin is looking around.  He's a tall guy, but when he stands on his toes I know instantly who he's looking for.  He won't admit it just yet and I won't ask him right out, but we both know that he's not going to be calm until he finds her.  Even if he doesn't go over and see her, he needs to know where she is.  He used to do this with his mom until he got old enough to date.  It's not really that he needs a security blanket.  He just needs a few familiar faces.

Five.  Four.  Three.  Two.  One.

"Tiny?"

"Hmmm?" I say as we take the long route around to VIP.  I would cut through the dance floor, but that would just complicate things.  I'm not sure if Justin is going to be formally announced at the party, but he doesn't seem to want to wait around to see.  He's already a step ahead of me as we walk.

We've been here before and he seems comfortable as we walk..  More than a few release parties have been staged in this place.  It's safe here, but with this many people around nothing is certain.  Nervousness is something you have to pick up on in this business and for the most part he's really confident in places, but this place compared to New York is really like night and day.  There everything is claustrophobic and here things seem to flow at a different pace.

"You see Viv?"

I search the room quickly taking in about a hundred faces quickly before I find hers in the crowd.  It's old habit to catch a glimpse of the whole crowd and remember about three fourths of the faces.  Photographic memory is something that comes in handy when trying to keep track of people and places and things.  There isn't time for mistakes and seeing someone that is familiar not only helps when its a friend and even a bigger help when it's something that Justin or I want to avoid.

I don't tell Justin right away that I found Vivian.  I take a look at her, make sure she's ok and notice that she looks as if she's bouncing up and down.  I'm sure it's from the event she caused outside, but there is something more.  She likes parties.  She likes interacting with people and at the moment she seems to be scoping out the crowd trying to see who is going to be her newest friend.  She's standing over by the bar, a clear tumbler filled with something or other that had turned into a bright pink color.  I'm sure she's not at all drunk yet, but she looks insanely happy and I'm hoping that she can rub some of that off on Barry, who has spotted her and is on his way over to her with a scowl on his face.  This is not going to be pretty.

I like Barry, don't get me wrong, but what Barry thinks about Justin's image sometimes clouds his judgment when it comes to other parts of his personality.  He takes the business too far and it seems as if today is no different.  He's going to tell Vivian that what she did was wrong.  While business wise it might not have been the smartest thing, I knew that it was better to get them to interact out in front of the cameras instead of sneaking around like Justin did with Britney.

Three long years of playing hide and seek with the press wasn't worth the trouble that it caused when they finally came out in the open.  It's insane to do that to yourself.  They need to be themselves, the way that Justin has come into his own on the new album.  Starting fresh is what this project is about and I believe that needs to happen in all parts of life.

"There--"  I point and just as I do it, Barry gets to Vivian and takes a hold of her arm.  He does this roughly and a moment later I can see the wet spot on his shirt.  He lets go of her arm to grab some napkins and as he's yelling at her, he dabs at the spot.  I can't hear a word that he's saying as Justin's new single comes over the radio, but I can see that he's really hitting into the poor girl.

Justin sees this and before I can react to pull him back, he's pushing through the crowd.  It wouldn't be that hard to walk across a room to see your girlfriend, but when you're the star of the evening and your single has just started to play over the speakers at a deafening level, it's hard to get to where you want to go.

Although he acts gracious to everyone that crosses his path, his eyes never leave Vivian.  I've got my eyes on her and I give his shoulder a squeeze to let him know it.  The tension is still there and I'm sure it's going to be there until he gets over to her and sees what is going on.

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Last updated: 07/30/04.