Stories From A Life

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Sally Swift

Sally Swift
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
June 14
VP, Repartee
Swift Retorts
sally: a journey, a venture, an expression of feeling, an outburst, a quip, a wisecrack ... me


Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 9, 2009 12:32AM

I've Seen Britney's Spears

Rate: 47 Flag

This post was already planned, but I was inspired to publish it now by Matt Morris' hilarious post  Britney Spears is F*@%!ng With My Creative Process.

"I do want to go to college. Right now I want to focus on my music, but I definitely want something to fall back on and to have something to look forward to because this business is crazy!" Britney Spears, 1999

If she had only known. Britney Spears became a gigantic star before she had a chance to become a grown woman. And so of course she became a media punching bag, a designated bimbo whose every action was chronicled around the world.

In Britney's case she kept bumping into not only paparazzi but her own worst self. She started out as a sizzling rocket, but she was set up early to crash and burn ... by the very people who should have protected her the most.

And I say that from unique personal experience.

So, yes, for those of you keeping score, of course I have a Britney Story. In My Worst Job: A Night with Ozzy Osbourne, I said this:
Ozzy's AOL chat was the second hardest I ever produced. You'll have to guess the hardest. I promise to write about it soon. Degree of difficulty includes the celebrity's intelligence/ability to respond, plus the make-up of the audience and number and tone of questions coming in from users.

Yes, Britney's chats were the hardest. I sense you are not surprised.

I met America's favorite Pop Tart in 1999. Accompanied by Mom, Britney came to AOL's Culver City studios five times between January and April to headline our popular AOL Live online chats.

Let's just say, chatting was not her strong suit. A few sample snippets:

Question: Do you like all the attention of being a hot singer?
Britney Spears
: I mean sometimes it's fun, but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming and you don't have peace or time to yourself, but sometimes it is really flattering.

Question: What do find most rewarding about performing?
Britney Spears
: Probably just the crowd's reaction is the best feeling when you're up there. Even the songs that, like aren't out yet, they're still screaming, and that's the best feeling in the world because they know your music. And they're screaming your name!

Question: What is the best advice ever given to you?
Britney Spears
: Probably just to check it with yourself every day or, I mean, check IN with yourself everyday.

Question: I have never talked to a celebrity before and it would be really cool if you would just tell us something that not even your biggest fan knows!
Britney Spears
: I pick my toenails.

: What do you want your third single to be?
Britney Spears
: "Crazy."

(c) 1999, Entertainment Asylum & America Online.

Well, seems she was a bit prescient too.

To be fair, she was very young. Her mother, though older, was... well... not much wiser. Whenever I met them, I was treated to duets of gum chewing. Double doe-eyed confusion. And near pathological unselfconsciousness.

Or hey, maybe just plain unconsciousness.

Let's put it this way: I wasn't at all surprised when Britney displayed her coochie to the world seven years later. Because it comes... she'd already bared her boobs to me, at her mamma's request.

We were in the Green Room, a fairly high traffic area, preparing for one of her last AOL chats. No more typing, it was a live web interview, streaming video, so her fans could see her. As we waited, conspiratorial mother-daughter whispers and giggles resulted in an "impromptu" wardrobe change.

Off with her shirt! No tube top. No bra. Full. Frontal. Britney.

Apparently part of Mom's ploy to solicit my opinion--read: affirmation--as a fellow parent. And who knows, maybe also to seek support (something Britney clearly didn't need) from other adults in the vicinity. And everyone else in ogling distance.

Note: I'm not comfortable imagining us as even vaguely similar mothers. Plus, I have a son, no daughters. Though I can't imagine any of my 11 nieces baring all in front of strangers, mamma-says or not.

However, as Lynne's truly lovely and clueless child stood there naked from the waist up, jaws working, eyes unfocused in the middle teen distance, one foot tapping to an inner beat, her mother asked me ... wait for it ... "Do you think ah was wrong to buy her them thangs?"

Yeah, really.

Lynne Spears was a grade school teacher. Which doesn't guarantee good parenting. But it should at least require correct grammar. Hell, what do I know, maybe in the Deep South "them thangs" passes for Shakespeare.

Britney was no literary genius herself. Who cares. She could sing, she could dance, she could connect to an audience in that magic way some performers just do ... it can't be learned, it's in their DNA.

Often, sadly, so is self-destruction. Britney had a gift, still does. Real, genuine talent. It got buried for a while under a pile of inadequate supervision, bad choices, even worse advice. And, as I saw for myself, no strong helpful voices.

Underneath it all, Britney was a nice kid who grew up (and out) too soon. Now she seems to have her act back together. I hope she can keep it that way. Because she's not just a sexy pop tart, she's a performer with some serious game.

Oh, right. I'm not quite finished. It's only fair, you waited this long. So: Yes, they were spectacular!

Wait! I just found this quote, totally by accident:

Question: If you got to be like one person who would it be?  
Britney Spears: Probably Meg Ryan

Well. Heh. Have I got timing or have I got timing?!

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Bumped for Britney's bumps.
Wow. I mean ... wow.

Well, them thangs are often out there. Oh well.

Poor girl. I'm guessing she's got a bipolar thing happening, but who knows?

but you know, her new album is really good.

GREAT post.
Why can't you just leave Britny alone?
In Britney's defense, she may be brighter than the last Republican candidate for Vice-President.
I've never met a performer who wasn't totally blasé about changing in front of strangers. It goes with the territory; I'm sure Britney has been changing costumes in crowded rooms since she was eight years old, if not longer.

Mom's "thangs" comment is bizarre, though!
I actually sort of enjoy Britney Spears music. She has a song, out about a year or so ago, called "Piece of Me" that's pretty funny. I didn't know she had implants.

And by the way, "them thangs"--at least with respect to Britney--would not considered Shakespeare in the Deep South, just native poesy. And all the southern men I know, love poesy.
Rated for them thar thangs! Sally Rocks! There was much said about the possible boob job. Don't know if it was ever confirmed. Now the whole world knows for sure.

And I do hope she finally grows up. The world can be so cruel on a young performer. Especially with a mother like that.
I like what Tom said.

I might have issues (okay I do have issues) with my mother, but at least she never asked me to show my tits.
I guess now we know why Britney's father is considered the "good" parent.

Love your scandalous stories, Sally!
Ha ha. Some guys I knew used to call her "Britney Spheres". Good post.
I have always felt sympathy for her. She seems like a nice girl/woman with some psychological problems that are exacerbated by her extreme fame (which she sought but surely didn't know would be so destructive).
Hey, this is the post I've been waiting for!

But seriously, breast implants at 17? OMG. Of course, that was speculated about a lot, but she always denied it until last year. If you feel you must deny something, then the great likelihood is that it should never have been done in the first place.

This poor girl was sculpted and scripted to be a seductive nymphette. It's no surprise that once she came of age, she would rebel against those who controlled her, and that she would fall back on the only thing she had been trained to do, and to do well: use her sexuality. Sure, others do it too, but Britney apparently had not matured in character or morals -- she never had to -- so once she abandoned those who had guided her (even though their guidance was poor, to say the least), she was truly lost.

BTW, I'm not convinced she is out of the woods yet. And I'm not so sure she really has much talent, either. Once you strip away the sexuality, is there really anything there?
Sally I thought THIS was one of my favorite lines:

To be fair, she was very young. Her mother, though older, was... well... not much wiser. Whenever I met them, I was treated to duets of gum chewing. Double doe-eyed confusion. And near pathological unselfconsciousness

And then it just got BETTER!

This is the kind of story that the comedy
masters would tell sitting around the table at the deli. (pass me that jar of pickles please---geez the pastrami is good here. . .)

An incredibly well written piece of work.
Oh Sally ... I LOVE being a fly on the wall to your life ... wow!!!
I think Britney is a victim of so many things ... her mother, postpartum ... I could go on and on. If only she could have actually "checked it with herself."

Thanks Sally ... indeed, your timing is spectacular!!!
Ah, to have seen half the things you've seen, Sally.

That would mean I'd seen one of Britney's boobs. ;-D

Good post. I never cared for her music, but I did wonder the exact same things as Steve (Procopius) did. He said much better than I ever could have though, so I'll just say: Ditto!

Thumbed for boobage.
Agree that Britney's level of discourse is Palin level. What is it with showing her thangs and cootchie? Do you think it's what she thinks is best about here or is she just an exhibitionist who wants to get press? I saw her once at a Broadway play ("Rent") when she was dating her boy band guy and she had two huge bodyguards sitting on either side, like a princess.
As usual, you are the polar opposite of boring! (Comes with leading a full, fab life and being able to bring us along.)
Why can't I make bank for my "near pathological unselfconsciousness." I got that too sometimes.

Meg Ryan...ridiculous. That's the most ridiculous response I've ever heard.

Let me ask myself that question:

"Beth, if you could be like one person, who would it be?"
"Jan Brady, the early years."
I came across this post the usual way...OS search bar, type coochie.

Imagine my surprise to land in Sallyville. At the risk of stepping on my joke, I'll stop there.
I have always felt nothing but compassion for Britney Spears, as much as the appearance of mothering has been painful. I can't imagine being thrust into the celebrity world at such a young age. No one can judge what that must have been like. Great post Sally.
Some gals have all the luck.

I think it's probably quite true that Brit has been used to wardrobe changing in a pretty public way for a long time and am sure that people in film, stage, music, etc. are way more comfortable with their bodies than the average American prude, which is a good thang, in my view.

That said, it's also apparent where Brit picked up her own questionable parenting skilz.

Personally, I'd be far less interested in ogling her surgically enhanced a-boobagements than in spending a little quality time sniffing her understatements.
Very entertaining post, but I too have always found her sad, even before she had her meltdown. I just thought she was a little girl like many others who enjoyed singing and being the center of attention and got pimped out by adults to make money off that desire. Her problems since are all too predictable. I envision her having a Liz Taylor kind of life - many husbands and hospitalizations.
White trash is as white trash does.

(Wait... is that wrong?)
Odette, thank you. I have to agree, when she was really spiraling down I also thought bi-polar, exacerbated by drugs and booze, the typical self-medications of choice. As an unapologetic pop music lover, her new album is really good, I agree.

Priddy, sorry if I offended you, but by her own choice, Britney's a public entertainer, hugely popular (her Circus web vid alone has over 18 million views). I met her, I have a story about her. I've had it for almost 10 years. She's up (and out) now. So I'm not attacking her, I'm telling my story. Here. For free.

Tom, bingo! Even at 17 she had more synapses firing.

Allie, I never thought about it--probably because it was Britney--but you're right, most entertainers can't afford to be modest. And I wasn't shocked by her boobs... well, it was the third Boob who offended me: Mom.

Rich, thanks for the lesson on Southern-speak... "native poesy" ... I like that!

Michael, she confirmed it herself, not sure exactly when.

Lauren, as your OS mother-figure, Show me your tits! heh

UK, Lisa, buckeye, Steve, her story is ultimately sad. Clearly nature and nurture were against her. Don't yell at me, everybody, but I keep hoping she'll find an honest, loving partner to help her stay grounded. It can't be easy being the top Search Word on the Internet.

Roger, wow, thank you. How'd you know, I have sat around deli tables (Jerry's Deli in the Marina, our hang-out) telling and listening to stories like these.

Irr Mother, Bill, aw shucks, it's not like I've met the Queen or anything... well, wait, Queen of Pop counts. (Plus, I wouldn't want to see QEII's boobage). Think about it, we all Google ourselves (admit it!) but can you imagine if Just your First name was the top Search Word on the Internet.

Lea, I'm blushing... "the polar opposite of boring!" There are those who'd say I'm the polar something, but okay, I'm not so boring. And neither, my fellow fab lifer, are you!

Beth, Bob, between the two of you, a one-two punch! I'm still howling!!
* "Beth, if you could be like one person, who would it be?"
"Jan Brady, the early years."

**I came across this post the usual way...OS search bar, type coochie.

Dr. D, where exactly was Hillary as a role model in 1999? Oh, right, being cuckolded by Bubba. An educated, intelligent grown woman, she handled everything far differently and much, much, MUCH better.

Brake, Mary, Silkstone, ultimately sad child. Jury's still out on Brit as a real grownup.

Lonnie, SHUT. UP. ... heh

Blake, you said it, I didn't. At least not Here.....
Brit was recently enslaved by her father, somehow being declared unable to function on her own. So she's back to being domineered by her alcoholic stage father. Can you say "living hell"?
Rated, if for no other reason than I'm a thang man. Good post!
It was a joke, Sally. Google "Leave Britney alone". You got to be up on the current saga if you want to jump on the bandwagon!
Excellent, Sally. Rated for having such a keen eye and being willing to share it.
the thing I notice about all these Disney kids is that they are hard workers with talent and a keen eye on how to make a buck, but Disney did a great disservice by not teaching them how to handle fame.
epriddy, i just googled 'leave britney alone' - HILARIOUS!
Is "Leave Britney Alone" the video of the crying effeminate kid?
Painful. Just painful. I'd say funny (well, ok, Mom's question about the thangs is funny) but mostly I feel very, very sorry for this poor young woman and would rather like to gather up the funds to ship her and her kids off to some kind of residential community where they re-parent broken people. :-(
Set em up, knock em down. Welcome to pop culture, where the media creates stars, and then eats them for breakfast.

Britney never had a chance. And it will take a lot of years and therapy for her to get one.
Poor child. And still a child, really, with no one really looking out for her or her best interests, just a collection of hangers-on who want her to be profitable because they get a piece of her action.
I get totally sad when I think of her...and her kids. Really. BTW...the google Leave Brittany Alone is priceless. Am I mean?
And no. I caint spell good. I am from the deep south.
Three things:

(1) Sally, this is an incredible post. The subject is fascinating---but your deliver is dead-on perfect.

(2) I feel sorry for her too, but there comes a point (and here, I come to you as a woman who would have been better off being raised by wolves) that you have to GROW UP and overcome your parents errors. This, ideally, should be before you have kids of your own, but too often, it is not the case. She has a lot of money, she might consider buying good counseling---maybe she could buy a set of parents.

(3) And this is for Tom: Are you kidding me? She appears brighter than the current Republican President---forget about recent VP contenders.

Rated and dugg
I've met many, many breast augmentation patients who like it just fine - are eager, even - to have their investment appraised/praised. I'm not saying all women with boob jobs are like this, but the ones I know personally - yes.
Truth be told I never found Britney Spears attractive. Not at age 17. Not at age whatever she is now. Having read this post though I find her to be somewhat sympathetic. Her mother is a sick individual though.
They took the pun out of your title when you made the front page. Oh well, it's still a fun post. And I like them thangs.
What a great story--but so damn sad!
Actually the story isn't all that sad (okay, the boob thing is weird)
It's her life that is sad.
Sally, I ALMOST didn't read this, as I've got about as much interest in Brittney Spears as I do in the Uniform Tax Code, say, or potted plants, but I thought I'd take a peek...Glad I did! Your sharp, funny prose transcends the vacuousness of the topic -- especially loved the line about her not needing support. Now I've gotta go read the Meg Ryan post, which I never got back to after having my coffee the other day.
In the part of the South where I live,"them thangs" is usually called "bodacious tatas", especially when they're of the spectacular variety.
Okay, Prid, you got me. Haven't seen much of you lately, and you're such a keen supporter of the underdog, I fell for it. I've posted that kid's video on another blog piece, it's pathetic and hilarious at the same time... creepy... never sure he was serious or not.

Gordon, she's too old to be enslaved by anybody now. Guys, do the math, she was 17 in 1999. This is 2009. Still, pathetic parenting all around.

Sheldon, Shelle (how euphonious), thank you both. Perhaps you should meet.

Verbal, heart of gold, Brit has more than enough funds to send herself anywhere. Which I think she did.

Liz, you got it nailed. Therapy for all.

Barbara, I don't believe 27 is a child, even factoring in arrested development.

Gracilou, not a mean bone in your body!!

m.a.h, you and I agree totally, and you said it better: "I feel sorry for her too, but there comes a point (and here, I come to you as a woman who would have been better off being raised by wolves) that you have to GROW UP and overcome your parents errors. This, ideally, should be before you have kids of your own, but too often, it is not the case. She has a lot of money, she might consider buying good counseling---maybe she could buy a set of parents."

Sandra nlm, when do we get the Name?? I know women proud of their augmentations too. But the key word, for me anyway, is women, not teens.

icemilk, she was actually a very pretty girl. Sweet, too.

Oh pooh, Stacey, you're right! Well, whoever clicks will get it, if they get it, thank you for getting it. :)

Laurel, I always check out posts by everybody I admire, even if the subject matter doesn't click with me. Hey, this subject matter wouldn't click with me if it hadn't happened to me! Thanks for "groking" the exact goal I had in mind, prose-wise.
Great post, Sally. I needed that at the end of this week!
Her mother is the poster mom for child neglect. Exhibit A, her first grandchild by her 16 year old daughter.

Britney Spears/Meg Ryan. Both females. That's where the comparisons end.

Rated for thoroughly entertaining.
How did you keep a straight face?
Well, thanks, LuluandPhoebe!

And Marsha, thank you, plus kudos on your fear post making the cover bigtime this week. I'm sorry I couldn't read it, have been meaning to ask you to send me the text version via regular email. It's all explained here Mexico Travel Tale - Creature Feature which I wrote way back in beta days. You might find it interesting in fact. More so than Brit's Tits. ;)
Greg, oops, we crossed. I'm not sure Mom would have noticed my face, she was focused on the fuss her daughter's boobs were making.

It's funny, no one has asked me what I replied to the question about "them thangs".
Well, Sal, yet again you've stirred the pot. It appears that Britney's Spears are very popular. Trouble is they aren't unique -- anyone can have them. All it takes is money. Just ask.
Well, what did you say, Sally?
I sat across the table from Alan Alda and had a few beers with him years ago, before leaving he asked me if I had known who he was and I said, "Who cares after a few beers all you babes look like Carol Burnett" (He was doing a film with her in town.) He stuck me with the tab.

As for Britney Spears.. I can imagine next to the OZ she is quite the conversationalist.
Well thanks a lot, Lauren, I didn't think anyone was listening... and now I can't remember! ;) I had a 13 year old son at the time, I remember mentioning I was only familar with sons, but "as long as she's healthy, I guess show business requires different decisions."

It's also entirely possible I said, "mumpherahemuheryesmumphera."

Great post! Rated! I'd rate it twice, with perfectly matched ratings, but I don't seem to be able to find a button for that ...

RE: "Barbara, I don't believe 27 is a child, even factoring in arrested development."

I'm afraid your attitude isn't current:

The 2003 General Social Survey, if I remember rightly, had Americans' mean answer to the question of when adolescence ends and adulthood begins pegged just north of 26 years old.

p.s., I'm a social science librarian at a Midwestern U. with a rat-trap mind. Lots o' numbers in my head. Not much else. :-)
Hey David, thanks for the thumbs! I know the survey, which is why I said 27 isn't a child.... though we all know a few so-called adults who behave like teens all their lives... :) And it seems to me you have more than numbers in your head. Well, maybe TWO is flashing right now (so to speak). heh

Ann! You're back! I have SO missed your writing (and you) and hope all is well. Please, give us the benefit of your outstanding work again. Praise from you means a lot. Thank you.
I find her too vapid to be interesting. If she wasn't a basket case she would be a serious bore.
It's hard to feel sorry for Britney Spears. Was she exploited? Sure.

But if you want to exploit me for, oh, about $100 million, feel free. Send me a private message and I'll be sure to respond. But I want the money in my bank account first. And no Bernie Madoff stuff or I will cut you.
I'm not Britney fan by any stretch. My list of reasons is too long to go into, but it is pretty thorough, excluding her looks ;^)

Anyway, I never thought she was a rocket scientist to start with, but I gotta say that I really see nothing odd about the responses she gave in those samples. They sounded honest and lucid, if not grammatically correct.
spectacular post! love the shoutout to seinfeld! adore the pathological lack of self-consciousness. and i'm onboard with the bipolar diagnosis, as someone with bipolar 2 who does not shave her head or hit cars with golf clubs, it can see the manias there. i love these stories and your fabulous writing but of course i'm the ex-l.a. 'ho with some of my own brushes with greatness. but yours are the real thing and great reading!!
forgot. friended and rated. can't wait for more.
jimgalt, point taken. If I hadn't produced her interviews and seen her breasts thisclose, I'd have no interest in her either.

Tony, yes, it's had to feel sorry for anyone who's very rich. On the other hand, I met this kid at 17 and got a good look at how lost and sad she'd become. Money, as we've seen with Brit, doesn't automatically make you happy. The best it can do is make you unhappy in a comfy environment. And buy you good therapy.

DS, I guess I took too make "likes" and "I means" out. I'm not sure, but I haven't heard any celebs lately givin it up that they pick their toenails. Plus, Meg Ryan as a role model? In another chat she named Whitney Houston as her idol... turned out to be much closer to the mark.

Theodora, I have a feeling this is the beginning of a long friendship and mutual admiration society. More coming, but do poke around in my blog archives, some fun (and very painful) stuff already out there. You're not alone on OS.
In other words, Sally, she was a typical 17 year old kid. She didn't know what she was doing. She was lost and confused.

And she had a big bankroll to pay for the therapy that most kids that age do not get the chance to get.