Justin’s “First Love” Tells All June 2004 Student nurse Danielle Ditto’s ex-boyfriend is possibly the most famous –and desirable – man on the planet. She and Justin Timberlake grew up near each other in Tennessee, and they started dating eight years ago. They were each other’s first loves, and it’s safe to say Danielle has never forgotten him –well, would you?! Here, she talks frankly to 19 about her relationship, how fame drove them apart, and what she thinks of Britney… So how did you meet Justin?
“I was in 7th grade (14 years old) the first time I saw him. I went for a pizza after church with my friends and he came over and gave me his autograph on a comment card! I’d never seen The Mickey Mouse Club- we didn’t have cable at home- so I had no idea who he was. I just turned the card over, wrote my name on it and gave it back to him!” Very cool! What was your first impression?
“Justin was this blue-eyed, curly-haired, smarty pants. He had a baby face and was wearing dungarees. I thought he was so cute, but we didn’t get to see each other for another year, because we went to different schools. But one day we ran into each other on a baseball field. He’d grown a bit and had a motorbike which got major girl-points! The minute we got talking it was obvious we were perfect for each other. We were finishing each other’s sentences, and I had butterflies! I liked his style –we lived in the country, but he’d been to Memphis so he dressed good. I thought: ‘Finally, someone without cowboy boots!’ I thought he hung the moon (he was amazing)! After that we talked on the phone, like, all night long. But I had a boyfriend, so I told Justin we couldn’t date.” Oh no!
“Justin wouldn’t take that, though. I was singing at a country music place and my boyfriend was there. I was onstage when I saw Justin walk through the door in a white suit. I didn’t know he was coming, and I thought there might be a fight. As soon as my boyfriend left, Justin said: ‘I think I love you. You’re going to have to tell the other guy it’s over.’ He walked me out to the car and kissed me. He was the best kisser. Then my boyfriend pulled up! Justin wanted to talk with him, but I told him to go home. Justin called me that evening and my boyfriend was beeping in on his call. It was terrible! Eventually Justin went round to his house to explain how we felt and that was that. That guy never spoke to me again, though.” Where did you go on your first date?
“To a basketball game. His mum played tapes of him singing in the car on the way there. He was so embarrassed, I was mortified for him.” Yes, his mum. They’re very close…
“Sooo close. But she really liked me. We’d hang out and go shopping. When I was younger I thought she was too protective because she was always there. But now I’m older, I hope I’m a mum like that one day. People ask if she was a pushy stage mum, but she wasn’t. She always told him: ‘Know what you want and make sure you put it first.’” What did your family think of him?
“I was living with my grandma at the time (my parents had moved away to the suburbs, but I stayed with her so I could continue at the same high school). My grandma loved him! They hung out if I wasn’t there. She was into country music, so he brought her pop videos. He’d say: ‘Grandma, I’m going to teach you to like it (pop).” Was it hard to get time on your own?
“Oh yeah. We’d both come from religious backgrounds. Mum’s Pentecostal- very moral. I mean, for a while I wasn’t allowed to wear red or black because it made me look too grown up! His mum has the same ideals. His granddaddy is a preacher and his dad was a deacon. So when we saw each other, the rule was the bedroom door stayed open.” Was it hard to stop things going too far?
“Yes! He’s hot and we were in love. Thank God for our background, because if it got too heavy, one of us would stop. He’d say: ‘This is how people mess up, we’re too young!’ We held out for a long time, but it was so difficult.” When did it get really serious?
“A year in. It was December and he got a call from hi friend JC (Chasez) to say he could join *NSYNC… but it meant moving to Florida. When he told me, I was exited for him, but heartbroken. That Christmas he got down on one knee and gave me a promise ring –to show that one day we’d get engaged. It was beautiful, with three tiny diamonds. He said: ‘Danielle, I know you’re worried about me going away. And everyone says first loves don’t last, but we’ll prove them wrong.’ It was such an amazing thing for him to do. Especially as I’d only got him a toy monkey with ‘Studmuffin’ (my nickname for him) on it, and a basketball! That’s when our parents realised how crazy we were for each other. I remember one day we were in his room, laying there, talking. I looked at him and thought ~I’d die if anything happened to him. It scared me so much I almost broke up with him.” How did you cope with the distance?
“I was begging my parents every few weeks for money to fly to Florida (about 600 miles away). School was hard, too –because I’d be asking for books so I could do my homework out there. And the phone bills were massive.” What was his life like out there?
“Oh, I was sick jealous! I was working my butt off cheerleading or singing in church, and he had a swimming pool, sun, the ocean and Disneyland. When I went to visit him, lots of people knew him from The Mickey Mouse Club. He had his own following. I thought it was odd, but I wasn’t worried about other girls because he did so many sweet things for me.” What kind of things?
“One Valentine’s Day I had flu. He told me he couldn’t come home because *NSYNC were doing their first concert in Orlando. He’d been working for this all his life so I understood. That day I was miserable so I had a soak in the tub. When I got out Justin was there! He’d prepared a picnic- with brownies and linguine and alcohol-free champagne. He gave me a card saying To the prettiest blue eyes I’ve ever seen. He was so romantic.” Surely he had some annoying habits?
“He had a thing about cereal. He used to get a huge bowl and put a whole box of cereal into it with half a gallon of milk. If you wanted cereal, you had no chance! And he had a thing about his feet. Justin probably took better care of his feet than any man I’ve known. They were so clean I was embarrassed to take my socks off around him! He always chewed melon gum, too. If you’ve ever kissed someone who’s eaten it, it’s disgusting!” You were both virgins, weren’t you?
“Yes, we talked about having sex for a long time. And we were together for over a year before we did. But you get to a point where you’re so in love that (sex) is the last thing you can experience together. So we decided that even if first loves don’t last, we still wanted to do that together.” Did you plan your first time?
“To the T! We wanted it to be perfect, so we waited until our parents were out of town. I can’t tell you where it happened because I don’t think his mum knows that even now.” Were you nervous?
“We were so nervous! He was as scared as me. We weren’t embarrassed about our bodies –I knew his every freckle, every hair. I learned from Justin that people’s flaws make you love them. I’m glad my first time was with him. I couldn’t have asked for a better boyfriend.” Was it what you expected?
“It was awkward, but good. We loved each other, so we took full advantage of each other’s company in whatever way. I was so exited, I told my aunt. She was happy for me. Then she went into protective mode and told Mum.” How did she react?
“I think she knew. Before, we’d just kiss goodbye. After we’d had sex we got less careful, so people guessed. One night I was on the phone to Justin and Mum threw some condoms at me. I couldn’t believe she found it. But the worst thing happened a week later.” What was that?
“I was in Florida with Justin. Everybody was asleep and he came into my room. We were kissing and stuff. I was saying: ‘Justin, not here. Your mum’s nearby.’ Then she walked in. It was obvious what was going on…” What happened?
“It was a terrible, life-changing moment. When Justin saw her, he started crying. So I started crying and so did his mum. Then she called my mum, which made it worse because Mum was like: ‘I know.’ The whole time Justin and I were hysterical. He’s sensitive, though not the kind of person to cry, but we were can’t-catch-your-breath crying. When your parents have been paying huge phone bills and hundreds of dollars to fly you across the country… I felt I’d let them down. It wasn’t like coming home with a bad report card. This was serious. Worse still, my plane didn’t leave for three days, so I had to stay there” What happened when you got home?
“My mum wasn’t pleased. She intended for me to be a gospel singer and here I was having sex?! I was singing, in beauty pageants, modelling, studying… she didn’t want any of that to go wrong for me. Justin had his singing career. The more our parents talked, the more they wanted us to follow our paths and realised we couldn’t do that if we stayed together.” So did they clamp down on you both?
“Uh-huh. We weren’t allowed to make so many phone calls, so we’d buy phone cards. When we were in the same place, they tried to monitor us, so we started sneaking around. Eventually they cut the long-distance calls and stopped buying me flights. It got hard. We spent six months apart –that’s a long time. Justin always said his first love cheated on him. Is that true?
“There was a guy who was my best friend. He sat behind me in every class and during that period his parents were having trouble so we talked. One day he drove me home from school and kissed me. It wasn’t that big a deal, but I knew it was wrong. I avoided Justin’s calls, but I knew I had to tell him.” How did he take it?
“He was so upset. I tried to convince him it was nothing, but being so far apart… We broke up for two weeks, but we got back together because he said he couldn’t live without me. But Justin had a devious friend who said it was more than just a kiss. Justin turned up at my school freaking out. By this point I was like: ‘I’ve been through hell, we’ve split up, I was miserable, we got back together and I’m not putting up with it when it’s not true.” So that was the end of you’re relationship?
“No, we tried to make it work for a few more months, but I was in high school, in this serious relationship that everyone had an opinion on, dating someone I could never see, and when I did we had to sneak around. It got to a point where I had to make up a fake name just to talk to him on the phone. I wanted to live my life, go to dances, have the high school dream… I’d spent months telling Mum Justin and I were going to be together and there was nothing she could do about it. I know he had more pressure on him, but I wanted him to stand up for himself like I had. Eventually, we called it quits.” Was it easy to get over him?
“No! I was miserable. There was a brand of coffee he drank and for months I couldn’t look at a coffee cup. We talked on the phone a bit, but it hurt too much. I even got a friend to call his place in Florida to see if he was in the same mess. They said he wouldn’t go out, or shave. It was a relief to hear that. It took a long time to be able to date again. And when I heard he had a date with a girl, I called him up and cried down the phone at him. We had to stop calling each other.” How did you deal with your first love becoming a megastar?
“I never bought his CDs or went to his concerts. Amazingly I’ve avoided the whole thing. But my little sister, Alicia, who’s 19 now, used to like *NSYNC. She had Justin posters all over her walls and I had to live with that!” So, when was the last time you saw him?
“I see him driving round a lot when he’s home. It’s OK now. Last time, the only reason my stomach fluttered was ‘cos he almost ran me off the road as he was driving so fast!” What did you think when Britney said she was a virgin and hinted Justin was too?
“I never read anything in the press- but my grandma does. She says Justin never said he was a virgin, though when Britney said she was, it made it sound like he was, too. But I could tell from the pictures I saw of them that they were (having sex) because I know him.” In the British press, JT’s nickname is ‘Trousersnake’–so is he one?“Trouserwhat? Trousersnake? Oh right! You mean is it long? Er, it… he’s well-endowed. I’m not saying anything else.” Britney recently hinted that he wasn’t…
“Ohmigod! Really? I can understand her behaving like that. If she did lose her virginity to him- and I think she did because one of my friends saw her talking about it on TV and said her story was exactly like mine- I hope it was sacred for her. And, if it was, then she’s bound to be upset, and make comments.” Do you think the fact your male mate kissed you still makes Justin worried girls will cheat on him?
“Yes I do, because if Britney did do anything he’d be less inclined to give her a second chance. In the *NSYNC song ‘Gone’ he sings about a girl acting strange. My heart broke because that’s probably how he felt about me.” What do you think of him being linked to all these A-list ladies like Janet Jackson?
“It’s funny because my grandma reads all the stories about him and says she can’t believe he’s become this man-@#%$! Growing up, he thought Janet was so hot. He had posters of her in his room. So I can see that happening.” Does that make you jealous?
“No, but if he was my son, I’d kill him for dating women so much older! It seems like they’re tossing him aside like a boy toy. But if he enjoys it, what does it matter?” Do you think Cameron’s The One?
“I’m not sure. When you’ve dated someone for ages, like I did Justin, you know how they think. Justin likes goofy girls. Britney makes faces –she’s goofy. And Cameron, you can see that in her personality. But other girls, like Alyssa Milano, I knew she wasn’t right even though he brought her home. She’s beautiful, but not goofy, just like Kylie Minogue.” Have you got a fella now?
“I’ve been with a guy for six months now. He measures up to Justin. He’s got a lot of his traits: he’s romantic and kind. A couple of years ago, I got a tattoo of a blue treble clef as a memorial of the blues I felt when Justin and I split. It’s to remind me never to fall in love like that again. I’m training to be a nurse –I can’t do it and be in that deep.” What would you say if you saw him now?
“I’d wish him the best of luck. I hope his success lasts forever. He’s got the talent. I knew he’d make it because he’s got that quality. But he’s not famous to me. He’s still just a kid with crazy hair.”