As Mount Washington Elementary School employees, Nora Romero and Lilly Martinez get along with each other exceptionally well.
There are at least three reasons why: They work in the same office, their families are from the same city in Mexico (Monterrey), and they share a love for music and the arts.
But there’s a fourth reason that makes their friendship particularly close: They’re obsessed with Marc Anthony, the top-selling salsa musician of all time. So obsessed, in fact, that they listen to his songs practically throughout the day.
“I listen to him on the way to work,” says Nora, who has worked at Mt. Washington for the past 17 years and is currently its School Administrative Assistant. “When we get here, we listen again. And we listen on the weekends.”
Neither Nora nor Lilly can remember precisely how long ago their devotion to the Latin superstar began. “He had long hair and little wire-rimmed glasses” at the time, recalls Nora, adding that Lilly and she first heard him live in a concert at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City.
What attracts Nora and Lilly to Marco Antonio Muñiz, as the singer-songwriter and actor was initially named, is his “clean voice,” says Nora. “He’s not raunchy or vulgar.”
And he's immensely gifted. On Wednesday night, points out Lilly, Anthony appeared as a mentor on the X Factor television music competition show. "People might think he's following in the footsteps of Jennifer Lopez," says Lilly, referring to Anthony's former wife, who was a judge on American Idol. "But it's the other way around—he's the one with talent."
Adds Lilly: “He has beautiful lyrics—it’s like poetry.”
Still, no matter how haunting a form of music may be, it does take a serious addiction to listen to it morning, day and night, albeit with the volume turned down while at work.
“People think we’re crazy—it’s almost too much for them,” explains Lilly. “We’re like teenagers.”
Parents sometimes come into the office and say, “‘Oh, you’re playing Marc Anthony again!’” says Lilly.
Principal Elizabeth Valentino is used to the "puro Marc Anthony" that wafts softly into her office, located next door to the school office where Nora and Lilly sit on desks that touch each other, arguably symbolizing their closeness.
“Oh, don’t get them started on Marc Anthony,” Mrs. Valentino said last week, suggesting tongue-in-cheek that the slightest talk about the singer risks getting out of hand with his twin fans at school.
Sometimes, says Nora, she drives to Lilly’s house in Mt. Washington early in the morning to watch Marc Anthony videos.
“I hope it doesn’t sound sick, but we have coffee and get our Marc Anthony fix,” confesses Lilly.
The ladies’ goal is to see Marc Anthony in concert once again, either in his birthplace, New York City, or in Puerto Rico, where his parents were born.
Says Nora: “If Marc Anthony reads this [article] he’ll think we’re crazy.”