Just a year ago, Winnipeggers Pat and Al Bieber were leading a quiet life. When the phone rang, it was one of their children or friends calling. They liked it that way.
Then a 15-year-old boy whose father lives in Winnipeg became a singing sensation. The Biebers’ phone started to ring. And ring. And ring.
“Oh my gosh they call from all over the country,” says Pat. “We’ve had hundreds of calls. Last summer was very busy.”
The couple are not connected in any way to 16-year-old Justin Bieber, pop star and heartthrob to ‘tween girls. In fact, Pat Bieber has a ready response to the young callers.
“They only have to say, ‘Are you related to…’ and I fill it in for them,” she says.
The couple decided to keep their phone number. At least two other Biebers in the phone book have changed their number or gone unlisted. Sharing the last name of an international phenomenon, especially in a city as small as Winnipeg, can be a curse.
Guy Bieber, the CEO of Bieber Securities, says his phone number, thank the Lord, has been unlisted since 1982. “I’ve never been more thankful I made that decision,” he says. His brother Greg is listed. He’s been getting calls at home. Guy Bieber says things could be worse. “I understand he’s a nice kid.”
Bieber adds that his daughter, golfer Stacey Bieber, is prepared to be inundated with questions about Justin when she hits the circuit this summer. The family surname has been usurped by the singer. (Note to oblivious adults: Justin Bieber is huge. He’s the Davy Jones, Leif Garrett or George Michael of his time. He’s cute as a puppy and little girls adore him. He has great hair. He’ll be performing at the MTS Centre September 14. Tickets go on sale Friday. Consider yourselves warned).
Justin’s father Jeremy and his wife Erin are not shy about their claim to the boy. Jeremy’s Twitter name is LordBieber. Erin’s name is BieberMommy. The couple have two young children together, Jazmyn and Jaxon. Justin, as ardent fans will know, was raised primarily by his mother.
But in this fleeting time of Biebermania, every tenuous connection becomes a clue for fans who pore over fanzines and get swoony at the thought of a face-to-face meeting. Many ne’er-do-wells have created false Facebook names, claiming to be Bieber or one of his family members. Someone is impersonating a five-year-old boy named Ryan Bieber, for example. His corked-off dad (and uncle to Justin) has made it clear the preschooler does not have a Twitter account.
But the ardent need only read the Twitter pages of Justin’s mother, father and stepmother to feel like insiders. For that matter, they can follow the real mop top.
Here are a couple of tweets from Justin’s stepmom:
“@justinbieber your dad and i really needed that visit too. We love you so very much and hope we can start making more time for more memories;”
9:03 AM May 31st via web
“@justinbieber what you did for your little sister this weekend was wonderful. She is missing you today. We love you and are so proud of you”
It’s almost like having a party line, isn’t it?
Jeremy Bieber, in addition to tweeting about buying Slurpees and visiting McDonald’s, shares photos of Justin alone and with his two step-siblings.
Justin rings with birthday wishes for his dad.
It’s all completely ordinary except dad lives in Winnipeg and son rules the world.
If you meet a Bieber in Winnipeg and his first name isn’t Jeremy, don’t even ask the question. And if you do meet LordBieber, give me a call.
I’ve got a 16-year-old daughter. Justin seems like a nice boy. She could do worse.
email@example.comWINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Ummm, I don’t think Jeremy’s gonna be giving you a call lady. Not after you make him and his wife look like attention seekers.