Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oops! She Did It Again

The passage of time is supposed to do it. Having children is
supposed to do it. Changing party affiliations, finding a homey hobby,
discovering religion. These are all things that are supposed to do it.
Britney Spears is not supposed to do it.

And yet, she did it: Britney Spears has turned me into my mother.

"Oh, Britney!" I found myself saying out loud, into my newspaper. "Why Paris?"

was lamenting the fact that Ms. Spears, a woman I have never met, has
started hanging out with Paris Hilton. She finally sheds that dead
weight of a "husband" of hers, and she rushes into the arms of a woman
who ascended to fame with a night-vision sex video? How stupid of her.
What a waste. How … wait, what am I saying?

Mom was always
concerned about who our friends were. She is of the opinion that you
can judge a person by the company they keep. I never subscribed to that
point of view, but since I naturally gravitated toward the straight-A
types, it wasn't much of a problem. Sis, with her Florence
Nightingale-like love of all things injured and stupid, vexed Mom much
more with her choice of friends.

It used to bug me how much
importance Mom placed on who Sis' friends were. As long as Sis was
happy and staying out of trouble what difference did it make if her
friends were never going to win the Fulbright?

"It's important," she would snap back, without elaborating.

No, I thought to myself, it's not.

here I am, pouring over Web pages of Britney and Paris sharing fishnet
stockings, and thinking Brit could do better. Should do better. It's

Have I mentioned that I don't know Britney Spears?

Madonna's "Sex" book came out, I was in high school and Madonna was, by
my estimation, infallible. My mother thought the book was vulgar. I
thought it was genius – albeit in a pervy kind of way. Here was Madonna
laughing at the face of convention. Living up to the expectations of
prurient audacity a Puritan public placed on her – all while daring
that public not to like it.

And yet, when Britney flashes her
naughty bits (post babies!) for the paparazzi, I'm as aghast as a
librarian. As uppity as a book-burner. As disgusted as … as my mother.

Oops! Britney did it again.

they not make underwear on Planet Moron?" I shouted. "When she's
sticking her naked butt up against a plate glass window, is she
thinking, 'I sure hope my sons see these photos someday?' "

shake my head, wondering what is wrong with people, and I feel that
head growing a little harder, a little more judgmental, a little more
Mom-like. It freaks me out.

Time was, I saw a diverse friend
base as a sign of a truly loving person, a big-tent heart that had as
much room for the friend with the cabin in Big Bear as for the guy
who'd track you down at that cabin to ask you to post bail.

don't know how it happened, this transformation. I don't know how I
went from thinking about people as individuals to thinking about them
as the sum total of their friends. But it's happened. And I fear it's
taking over me: I mean, what was Lane Garrison doing in a car with
teenagers, anyway? He's 26!

I don't know if I'll ever shake
this choose-your-friends-wisely mentality. But one thing is clear: I
shouldn't spend any more time thinking about Britney Spears. She's bad

At least, that's what my mom would say.

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