Sorry it’s been so long since last I wrote. We have much to catch up on: Vanessa Grigoriadis’ Rolling Stone exposé; your brilliant album, Blackout; your appearances on How I Met your Mother; and my own experience taking what I like to call Britney Spears’ Eight Simple Steps to Breakup Recovery.
I’ve probably read Vanessa Grigoriadis’ Rolling Stone story a hundred times now, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any less depressing. Vanessa paints you as bratty and paranoid, traits no doubt the result of being both over-indulged and exploited by everyone in your life. She seems convinced of the verity of heartbreaking-if-true rumors: breast implants at seventeen and an affair with Wade Robson (assclown choreographer responsible for this lame So You Think You Can Dance number) that destroyed your relationship with Justin Timberlake. She also chronicles every reckless choice you’ve made over the past five years: your Vegas wedding to childhood friend Jason Alexander, your wedding to Kevin Federline, the two pregnancies that quickly followed, your divorce, and your months-long post-divorce bender. The Vegas wedding I can understand—there was definitely a moment when my ex-boyfriend Jordon and I walked by the wedding chapel at the Mall of America that the thought crossed my mind. Even the wedding to Kevin I can understand. As I’ve said before, we are all occasionally guilty of falling for idiots, and, as you proved with your first, marriages are not irreversible. Babies, however, are. The choice to have babies was a choice to take on responsibility few 23-year-olds are prepared to handle and a choice to be inextricably linked to Kevin. It was also a choice that made all of your subsequent choices—the divorce, the bender—far more grave. Like I said, the Rolling Stone story is depressing.
But Vanessa’s piece is perhaps unfair. So determined is she to depict you as an “American Tragedy” that she fails to mention the beacon of hope that has been burning brightly since its October release: your latest album, Blackout. It is your best album to date; there’s not one bad song on it. Of course, the album never allows us to truly hear your voice: your vocals have been so digitized that you sound as though you’re singing in unison with yourself or from the bottom of a well. But your talent is still evident. “Gimme More” is a dance party favorite everywhere. “Piece of Me” is the perfect paparazzi anthem, a feat Lindsay Lohan’s “Rumors” failed to achieve. Making this feat even more impressive is the fact that throughout every chorus and all but one verse the tune of the lead vocal track is comprised of only two notes. “Break the Ice,” on the other hand, showcases your vocal range and your ability to carry a tricky tune: the melody of the verses makes entire octave jumps while the melody of the chorus jumps by fifths. And in spite of its dopey lyrics (“When you walk, and when you talk, I get the tingle, I want to mingle”), I also enjoy your latest single, “Radar.” Favorite deep cuts are “Hot as Ice” as well as “Ooh Ooh Baby,” whose verses are reminiscent of the verses of The Turtles’ “Happy Together” and whose suggestive lyrics (“I can feel you on my lips, I can feel you deep inside”) always prompted Jim to ask “Which lips is she talking about?” By neglecting to mention the brilliance of Blackout, Vanessa is neglecting your talent and the fact that the best writers and producers in the business want to work with you, things that make your outlook a lot less bleak.
Of course, my love for you and my belief in your ability to get your shit together and make a glorious comeback have been unwavering. And as of late you’ve been making me proud. I enjoyed your March appearance on How I Met Your Mother. Much like your 2006 guest appearance on Will and Grace, your turn as Abby, the receptionist in Ted’s dermatologist’s office, gave you a chance to let your inner goofball shine. But while I enjoyed the first of your How I Met Your Mother appearances, I was disappointed by the second—not because of any failing on your part, but because the writing was poor. In your first installment, you are smitten with Ted, devastated when your love is unrequited, and easily seduced by his smarmy friend Barney. In the following episode, from which you are absent, someone is sabotaging Barney’s love life, and so, in a brilliant and timely parody of March Madness, Barney creates a bracket of all the women he’s mistreated in order to narrow the field of potential saboteurs. Five episodes later we discover the saboteur is in fact you—a terrible anti-climax, as your one night stand with Barney pales in comparison to the deliciously cruel things he’d done to the sixty-four women of the bracket. How I Met Your Mother is a show with no qualms about flashing backward and forward in time, so the saboteur could have been a never-before-seen character whose back-story could have been easily filled in through flashback. Once Barney discovers that it is you who has been warning the women of New York City against him he manages to seduce you once again and then concocts a ridiculous scheme: you and he will pretend to be in love. You’re hoping the scheme will make Ted jealous (this makes sense), and Barney is hoping the scheme will show Ted how silly love is (this does not make sense). The anti-climax coupled with Barney’s unclear reasoning make this episode a flop. Its only redeeming moment was your Cookie-Puss-Fudgie-the-Whale-Wedding-Cake line, which is a joke I’ve been making for years. You are, of course, welcome to borrow it any time.
Anyway, Brit, the rumors are true: Jim and I have called it quits. In the immortal words of Neil Sedaka, “breaking up is hard to do,” particularly when your ex was the brains of the operation, as I’m sure you’re well aware. So far I’ve mixed up Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Federico Garcia Lorca as well The Bell Jar and The Bell Curve. I have also over-drafted my checking account three times. These are the sorts of incidents that Jim used to be able to prevent. In the wake of the breakup I’ve been taking my cues from you. As I am neither the mother of two small children nor the subject of millions of paparazzi photographs, I have been able to take the Britney Spears’ Eight Simple Steps to Breakup Recovery without guilt or embarrassing national media coverage:
Step 1: Immediately embark on a wholesome athletic activity.
Remember how you broke up with Kevin via text message and then went ice skating in Rockefeller Center the next day? The weekend Jim and I split up I spent most of my time at a swim meet. See? You and I are wholesome. And athletic.
Step 2: Hit the bar.
Remember how you passed out and threw up in public? Miller Light is now an integral part of my diet.
Step 3: Dress like a stripper.
Remember when you borrowed clothes from a stripper? I took a pole dancing lesson, and I borrowed stripper clothes, too.
Step 4: Make new celebrity “friends.”
Remember when you and Paris and Lindsay were besties for, like, five minutes? I’ve been hanging out with celebrities, too. I saw Beyoncé and Jay-Z at game 5 of the Celtics-Cavaliers series. And the fat kid from Superbad. And Rob Lowe. At one point I was within twenty feet of both Rob Lowe and Wally Szczerbiak. It was orgasmic. I also saw Al Roker at the airport. His flight to New York had been cancelled and he was trying to get on mine. Remember when he had gastric bypass? He totally put the weight back on. And he must have had a chin tuck at some point because there’s this weird dimple just under his chin. You could lose a finger in there. And I saw Jonathan Kraft, president of the Patriots, at Care.com headquarters. I wore my Plaxico t-shirt special for the occasion, and he was a pretty good sport about it.
Step 5: Get a crummy new haircut.
Remember when you shaved your head? My crummy haircut wasn’t quite that crummy, but these Brenda Walsh bangs are driving me crazy. They’re always in my eyes. Sometimes I feel like a sheepdog.
Step 6: Give an embarrassing public performance.
Remember your underwhelming VMA performance? Don’t feel bad. In addition to my frequent mediocre karaoke performances, I’ve also been so drunk for the past three months that I’ve publicly ridden a mechanical bull. Twice.
Step 7: Find lots of new “boyfriends.”
Remember when you made out with some college kid in a hot tub? And then started dating that Arab-British paparazzo with that terrible soul patch? In the past three months I’ve been to two weddings and my college reunion, events where men are so easily seduced it’s not even remotely challenging. Boys are like fish in a barrel.
Step 8: Hit rock bottom.
Remember when you had to go to rehab? And then had to be hospitalized? My rock bottom was not quite so rocky, but two Fridays ago I didn’t have anything to do and went to see the disappointing Sex and the City movie ALL BY MYSELF. It was a real low point.
Here’s hoping things can only get better—for you and me both.