Pop Life: Baby Steps for Britney

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Britney: disaster or catastrophe? Discuss! All right, so we could go on all day running down her recent indiscretions, but by the time we're halfway done, she'll be knocking over a liquor store. So instead, let's save time by listing a few big mistakes that Britney has not made lately. OK: She did not cut off her ears while shaving her head, which is cool, because hair grows back but ears don't. She did not accessorize her new skinhead pate by carving an Iron Cross into her skull, putting on Dr. Martens and making an Oi!-revival album. She did not release a record where she compares herself to Billie Holiday. And she didn't have a couple of kids with a hobo.

OK, scratch that one. But that half-empty glass looks a little better now, doesn't it? Doesn't it look a little bit closer to, say, half-full? Wait -- that glass was half-full a second ago! Britney! You are making this difficult, girl. Her not-at-all-drug-fueled idea to scrape her head clean a la Robin Tunney in Empire Records and stand outside her ex's house bashing car windows has raised questions about her decision-making process. Dashing in and out of rehab like it was the stall near the sink, trading underwear with go-go dancers . . . in the immortal words of Al Bundy, "Gee, I hope that wasn't a desperate cry for help."

It's sad to see stars hit the skids, especially the ones like Britney, who aren't the most talented or productive but stay famous just because we like them. Don't these people have friends? The kind of friend who can invite Britney out for a wild night of 2-for-1's at Captain Jack's, put an arm around her shoulder and say something like, "Count back from ten, because I'm about to club you over the head, stuff you in a trunk and drive you to a motel in Wyoming, where they can't even spell 'paparazzi.' Then I'll handcuff you to the towel rack and let you dry out with just a TV, the first three seasons of The Golden Girls and a copy of Unborn Kittens' Letters to Jesus." That kind of friend.

Instead, her former assistant gabbed to the tabloids. So did her one-week boy toy, who confessed, "As we made love that night, it was like Kevin was in bed beside us." And Jason Alexander, her Vegas husband, now wants to be all Mr. "I Saved Britney's Life by Throwing Her in the Bathtub." It's enough to make K-Fed look good. Bad taste in friends? Could be. Bad taste in drugs? Definitely. But, hey, it's been a few minutes, and she still hasn't cut her ears off. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.