Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sometimes, they're not just like us

I'm coming out of retirement from public snark to thank Britney Spears.

You read that right.

Maybe you've been like me, and the whole Britney debacle has gotten so out of hand that you avoid as many updates on the declining state of her quality of life and wince all the way through the updates you can't miss.

So, yes, I don't comment on Ms. Spears because she makes me cry. Because she reminds me of people I've tangentially known and watched do things to their minds, bodies, and families that I wouldn't wish on George Lucas. (Oh, did you think the fact that the new "Clone Wars" is getting such good advance buzz would result in bygones being bygones, George? Did you?) And as someone who can't always get herself and her body chemistry on the same page, I have to say, I empathize too much with being a bit helpless against your own impulses.

So, really, when I holler at Britney or Lindsey to change course, to pull that swerving, bucking vehicle around onto firmer ground, I'm really hollering at myself. Drive, Britney, drive like your hands are on the wheel!

Which is more than just a metaphor, in this case, and the reason for my surprising gratitude.

Because I just saw the tape on Britney's little hit-and-run in the -- was it a Petco? -- parking lot. And, whoa, I feel her parking pain.

Because two weeks ago, I too managed to misnegotiate a parking spot or, rather, found myself thinking, Why won't my car back up, goddamn--oh, because that car I've just nudged with my fender isn't imaginary.

I did what we all do. We ask ourselves: Do I do the responsible thing and leave a note on this car that I just -- let's call it "abraded" -- or do I pull out with a screech of tires and disappear into lunchtime traffic, chanting, noonesawthat, noonesawthat, noonesawthat?

Well, this may come as a shock, but I do have a conscience, I do consider myself to be an upstanding citizen, and I'd like to remain that way, so I did leave the note -- rather calmly, actually, which, on the way back to work, I immediately followed up with pulling over to the side of the road to have a meltdown as impressive as ice cream on a July blacktop. I wept like a babe because I could see all the consequences reeling out in front of me -- an angry phone call from the owner of the car, paying the deductible to fix my own car, seeing my insurance rates spike. I found myself wondering, Is this necessary, is any of this really necessary, couldn't you just have pretended it didn't happen? Couldn't you for once, Seren, have tried to get away with something that thousands of people get away with every day?

Turns out what I got away with was no jail time. Turns out I wasn't just doing the right thing, but the hey-guess-what?-this-has-serious-legal-consequences thing.

Which is what Britney taught me.

So I thank her for her example. I thank her for showing me what could have been in that parking lot. Though, admittedly, there were fewer videographers documenting my little whoops.

Also, thanks to her, no bad hair extensions for me. I've seen what happens when they attack.


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