Short Story Saturday: Justin Timberlake's Decision
Every weekend here at Cinema Blend, we like to take a short break from the grind for some foolish and fun fan fiction. We call it short story Saturday. Last week, Josh explored Ben Affleck's future, and this week, Mack takes a fictional look inside the mind of America's favorite pop star. Here's Justin Timberlake's Decision...
“No. I’m sorry, Mr. Timberlake. The rules are there for a reason. You can’t play basketball and join the band. The times overlap. You need to pick a lane.”
“But I’m good enough to do both. Aren’t I?” He was clearly offended by the suggestion that his half-commitment would somehow produce an inferior result when compared against the full commitment of almost anyone else.
“Good enough? You’re the best French Horn player I’ve ever seen. I actively root for more French Horn solos whenever I go. Do you understand how rare it is to notice a French Horn player in the band, let alone pick him out as the star? And you’re clearly good enough at basketball. You know you’re good enough at basketball. Remember the game against Stevenson? That poor kid broke his ankle trying to move his feet to stay in front of your crossover. It snapped. I know I shouldn’t be laughing about that, but you put him in the hospital. He cried in front of like 300 people. Being good enough isn’t the point.”
“So, what is the point?”
“Life is a balancing act. You only have so much time, and when you get older, you’re only going to have so much energy. As an adult, you’re going to face much tougher choices than band or basketball. You need to learn how to make these decisions now so you can head in the right direction when it really counts. How are you going to know if you should rent or buy a house if you can’t decide this?” He was trying to sound compassionate, but the second that last sentence came out of his mouth, he knew it was more of a pimp slap than a pat on the shoulder.
“I just don’t want to let anyone down.”
“If you’re honest, you won’t. The only way you’ll let anyone down is if you spread yourself too thin and don’t live up to your commitments. Pick the one you’re better at and stick to it. Everyone else will either be happy you’ve chosen them or happy you’ve told them exactly where you stand.”
Principal Hinkle’s honesty was meant to be a piece of grown-up advice, but like most conversations with eleven-year-olds, it was not taken in the spirit intended. Instead of picking band as he was planning to, Justin impulsively quit both activities and quickly secured the role of Smee in the sixth grade production of Peter Pan. The show was plagued by shoddy direction and line recall problems from the outset, but Timberlake gained six pounds to get in character and won rave reviews for his showy, sniveling take on Captain Hook’s second in command.
Thinking about the fuck-you-I’ll-just-do-theater curveball his tween self hurled usually brought at least a half-smile to his face, but today, it only brought with it a depressing realization of how little things had changed. At thirty-two-years-old, he was no better at deciding which fork in the road to take. His first impulse was still to Houdini his way out of the this-or-that straight jacket and run like a dumb and happy eleven-year-old toward Neverland.
He needed to grow the fuck up. He needed to start making rational choices and take a page out of the Principal Hinkle playbook. He needed to figure out which direction to go in, and he needed to do it quickly so the world would stop breathing all over his limber torso and nimble vocal chords.
Going on tour with ‘N Sync would guarantee at least fifty million dollars for six months of work. He would play to sold out, highly appreciative crowds every single night, and every single concertgoer would leave the venue with an inflated, almost God-like perception of his talent. You know how pretty girls sometimes like hitting up the town with ugly friends so they look like models in contrast? Well, he’d be dancing next to pudgy, middle aged dudes like Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick. It would be like LeBron playing in an over thirty church men’s league.
That last thought was bothersome. Fantasizing about it made him feel cheap and kind of pathetic. Thirty-two isn’t an age for taking it easy, nor is it an age for trotting out your greatest hits. He needed to push his own music. He needed to follow up on the success of 20/20 and try to make Part 2 just as successful. He needed to tour with his own material and to seek new artists on the cutting edge to collaborate with, not coddle those he’d worked with in the past. He didn’t owe them a career. He only owed himself happiness.
He sighed deeply, walked over to the television, pressed mute on his DVD copy of Batman Returns and called his agent.
“Hey, Justin. You figure out what you’re going to do yet?”
The pop star opened his mouth to respond but stopped before any words actually came out. He watched Michael Keaton out of the corner of his eye, and a half-smile crept over his face.
“Justin, what do you want to do?”
“I want you to get Zack Snyder on the phone right now.”
“Because I loved every single minute of playing Smee.”
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