A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

By Nina Pajak

One of the joys of working in Midtown is the fact that I get the pleasure of walking through the Rockefeller Center plaza on occasion. And by joys, I mean pitfalls. And by pleasure, I mean unavoidable necessity. And by walking, I mean hurtling myself through seizure-inducing crowds of confused tourists, unruly school groups, City Sights hawkers and families that could (and do) fill a double-decker bus.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I actually learn something there.

A number of years ago, there was a great hubbub going on outside. Hysterical shrieking could be heard, and I saw lines of tweenaged girls and their beleaguered parents snaking around many, many blocks. Their eyes (the girls’, that is) were wide with manic excitement, and they were all carrying glitter-smeared signs written on neon-colored oak tag that said “I’m a Belieber!” and “Bieber Fever!” and “I ♥ U!!!!!!!!” Some were wearing homemade t-shirts to the same effect. Though nothing in particular seemed to be happening yet, they jumped up and down and babbled incoherently to one another as their mothers and fathers stood wilting in the heat, some of them resignedly holding their daughters’ posters for them while they fixed their barrettes.

“What the hell is Bieber?” I said to my companion. She had no idea.

When I got back to the office, I emailed a few of my colleagues: “Anyone know what a Bieber is?” No one did, but it spawned a thorough Google search which resulted in our answer.

“Some singer who appears to be eight.” Ah, got it.

Well, not so long after, guess who was in the know when Bieber became bigger than the Beatles? That’s right, this girl. On the cutting edge.

So this week, as I passed through the plaza on the way to lunch, I saw a mob of young girls gathered by the Today Show set, once again jumping up and down and screaming to one another. As I crossed the street far, far away from them, I managed to read one of their signs:

“I think about Cody Simpson like all night long and when he gets on stage he should get a huge round of applause!”

I see. That’s straightforward.

“Who in the world is Cody Simpson?” I asked my friend, who of course had no clue.

On the way back from lunch, the crowd had mostly dispersed and a few brave tweens were milling about the Today Show stage door. All of a sudden, we were blown back by a horrible, unbelievably high-pitched noise erupting from out of nowhere.

“SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! HE KNOWS [insert teeny-bopper-sounding name here]!!!! HE KNOWS HIM!!!!” a handful of girls were shouting at someone who appeared to be a roadie or tour manager, attempting to make his way through to the door.

“Who are they talking about now? What happened to Cory Simpson?” I asked my friend.

Cody Simpson,” she quickly corrected me.

“Right, sorry.”

So I went back to my desk to inform myself ahead of the age-appropriate curve, yet again. Turns out he’s got a bajillion fans online, many of whom go by Twitter handles involving the phrase “Mrs. Simpson.” They are the “Simpsonizers” to Bieber’s “Beliebers,” and I predict a showdown.

So okay, I’m not exactly the first to find out about him. But I bet I’m the first of anyone I know. Now when his face explodes all over the tabloids and MTV, and my friends say, “gosh we’re so old, who in the world is Cody Simpson? What happened to Justin Bieber?” I’ll be all, “oh please, I’ve known about Cody Simpson forever. He’s like, way popular. He’s kind of like the Selena Gomez to Bieber’s Miley Cyrus. Get it? You’re so totally old.” And they’ll be all, “how do you know that?! Who are you? How do you stay so youthful and on-trend?” And it’ll be my little secret.

Thanks, Rockefeller Center, for all the ways in which you enrich my life.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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