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Title: "A Tribute to You"
Nick Carter logged off his desktop computer with a sigh and pushed the button on the monitor waiting for the light to signal it was off. Then he reached for his can of Pepsi and padded stocking footed out of his now-dark office and toward his bedroom, clicking off lights as he went.
He saw his dogs in various comfy spots through the house--each curled up and snoring a typically loud pug dog snore. One of the sites he'd just visited had compared him to one of his dogs, saying he was 'equally ugly and equally fat.' Well, the pug breed did tend toward being over-weight, which did cause unpleasant difficulties with breathing. Nick could hardly deny that his dogs were plumper than they should be.
Nor could Nick deny that he was more plump than he should be. It stung to go to sites than made fun of him about his weight, but Nick realized the justice behind the words. No matter how painful it was, there was no question he had 'a weight problem.' And every day spent away from touring and other work just increased his bad eating habits.
Nick moved to the bathroom and prepared for bed, avoiding the mirror as best he could. Finally clad in a white tee and boxers--sans socks--he moved back to his bedroom and the womb-like comfort of his large bed.
He left on the glow from the bedside lamp and grabbed up a spiral notebook and pen as he slipped under the sheets. Nick needed to put his angst into the pages of his self-styled journal. He found it helped to write out his hurt and anger rather than simply stew over it.
He could hear one of the pugs snoring somewhere close--the sound made him smile. Nick worried that it wasn't healthy for his dogs to be so... fat (such a nasty word!). But he'd talked about it with his vet and tried to work on their exercise and diet. It was a difficult situation.
Still, Nick didn't feel any differently toward his round 'puppies.' He loved them not one jot less than ever because they weren't the perfect size. He found them not one jot less attractive in his eyes. Too bad not all fans felt the same about him.
He glanced again at the fan letter he'd received and read over the sweet thoughtful words for the tenth time that day. He decided in place of writing in his current journal, he'd take time instead for a personal answer to the woman who had sent the note to him.
He folded the spiral notebook open to a fresh page, staring down at the blank white with pale blue lines. At the top of the page in large letters, Nick Carter wrote: 'A Tribute to a True Fan.'
Then Nick reached for the small scrap of paper he'd scribbled on earlier and began to copy from it.
'Tribute: something given or contributed voluntarily as due or deserved; especially: a gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection (as in: a floral tribute). b: something (as material evidence or a formal attestation) that indicates the worth, virtue, or effectiveness of the one in question (as in: the product is a tribute to their ingenuity).
'Your letter to me was the nicest thing I've read about myself in a long time now. I've written that dictionary meaning of 'tribute' for two reasons, I guess. First, because your words to me were very much a tribute to the work I do (or attempt to do, anyway!) as a performer. And secondly, because I'd like to offer you a tribute in return--for bringing me up when I was so down in recent days.
I'm not very clever about some things. I don't know how to write fancy poems or fancy words. I just want you to know that during our summer tour I'm going to be thinking about your letter to me. About the words that made me feel like it's not a sin to be overweight or less attractive than other performers in the music business. I'm going to whisper your name to myself right before I go on stage--and each time my performance will be a tribute to you (and all of the fans that feel the way you do).
'Thanks for taking the time to write to me. You mentioned you didn't do this usually. You said you were not a 'bopper' and that you were a more mature fan. You mentioned your husband. I'm glad you did. It means a lot to me that you'd face your own embarrassment and write anyway.
'In the future I'll be facing the jokes and laugher with a smile. I guess it's the least I can do when I have fans who care about me like you do.
'Sincerely, Nick Carter
'P.S. Be sure to tell your husband he's a very lucky man.'
Nick put down the pen and carefully tore out the two sheets of paper, smoothing the rough edge with his fingertips. He wiped away the wet circle that had fallen in the corner of one sheet and laid the letter aside.
Finally he reached for an envelope and carefully addressed it, glancing back and forth to the wrinkled envelope of the well-read fan note. Once he'd finished using it as a writing surface, Nick let his journal slip to the floor.
When Nick was done with the address, he folded his letter and carefully sealed it inside; placing the letter prominently propped up on the bedside table.
Finally Nick re-folded the letter he cherished--and placed it gently back inside the envelope it had come in. Then he slid it beneath his pillow. For good luck, as a comfort--well, why not?
'I'll mail it first thing tomorrow,' he decided with a large yawn. Finally Nick snapped off the beside lamp and shifted comfortably under the sheets.
Nick Carter was tired. But he felt much better now. His flagging spirits had been renewed--by a woman who lived miles away from him. By a stranger he would probably never meet in person.
But that didn't matter. The author of that letter was more than a fan. She was his friend. And as he closed his eyes and drifted happily to sleep, he realized that he loved her--very much. And he was glad she had written those same words to him.
-the end--back to top of page-