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Bieber fans wear hearts on their sleeves

Justin BieberStaples Center

How do you let Justin Bieber know you're there when you're in a crowd of thousands at the Staples Center?

You ditch school early and persuade your mom or dad to leave work to drive you.

You wear purple because purple is Justin's favorite color. You write SWAGGY in gold sparkle on your T-shirt because Swaggy is Justin's special, made-up word. On your left sneaker, in Puffy Paint, you draw a fat red heart. On your right sneaker, you put the silver initials JB.

You stand in front of the arena's still-locked doors hours before you'll be let in. And you join other true Beliebers singing his songs — "You are my love, you are my heart, and we will never, ever, ever, be apart" — only you really mean it, and you know he'll know it as soon as he steps outside long enough to lock eyes with you.

PHOTOS: Justin Bieber comes to the Staples Center

You are 5 maybe, or 6 or 10 or even 17 — and you carry the sign you spent all weekend making that says that you are his "one less lonely girl." Or maybe you and your friends declare your love together, proclaiming on poster board, "Lindsey Lilly Violet Chloe Sophie all Love U."

If you are Amelia Erichsen, 13, of San Diego, you try to go the extra mile.

You glow-in-the-dark outline every letter on your "Be my boyfriend" sign so that he still can read your message when the lights go down. On your left arm, you write "I ♥ Justin!!" in ballpoint pen. And you get your mom, who has paid $250 for the tickets, to cut fringe in the bottom of your T-shirt and fake-sign his name on the back.

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You also get her to make one quick stop after she picks you up at school midday, just before you head north on the freeway — so the orthodontist can switch out the blue rubber bands on your braces for purple ones.

You've been to a concert before. You've seen the cast of "Glee" live and the Cheetah Girls.

But this is the first time you'll see him, even if he's far away. And maybe, just maybe if you wave your sign high enough, he might see you back.

If you met him, you say, you would faint at first. Then you'd smile wide to let him see the purple.

Asked what you would say, you squinch your freckly cheeks.

"I love you," you say.

"Or maybe, will you marry me?"

You smile shyly. By your side, your mother raises her eyebrows and laughs.

[View the story "Waiting for Justin Bieber at Staples" on Storify]

nita.lelyveld@latimes.com

You can follow Lelyveld's City Beat on Twitter http://twitter.com/LATimescitybeat and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/latimescitybeat.

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