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The Federlines and Us
By Elizabeth Crane

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline and my husband and I were married on the same day of the same year. I think you'll share my temptation to speculate about the greater meaning of this, but I also want to let you know right now that half my reason for this particular essay is that I just like to hear myself say "Federline."

Other things the Federlines have in common with us:

1. Nothing
2. Nothing
3. Nothing
4. Nothing

Well, okay, Britney says they have really great sex, but call me crazy, I'm not going to talk about our sex life in public.

Still, I am more interested in the mind of Kevin Federline than anyone other than Britney should admit.

I was compelled to watch the debut, and okay, most of the entire six weeks, of Britney and Kevin's show, Chaotic! One of my closest friends is on a TV show (is this anything like saying that some of my closest friends are black?) that airs on another network at the exact same time, a well-reviewed, highly rated doctor show, but I have a hard time watching it because they show close-ups of things like guts and intestines (these are medical terms, I'm pretty sure) and my friend is usually on for less than the length of the close-up of an intestine. For weeks, UPN ran commercials featuring a weirdly bluish close-up of Britney saying to the camera, "Can you handle my truth?" One night when my husband Ben left for the evening, I reminded him that he was going to be missing this show, and he said, "Aww, damn! I so wanted to see if I could handle her truth!"

The most interesting thing about this entire hour was that Britney seemed to think, Hmm, I need a boyfriend for this tour, and so she went to a club and picked out Kevin and the rest was history.

Still, I tuned in several more times. In spite of the fact that there was very little in the way of the drama you usually see in reality shows, there was something in that bad-accident-you-can't-turn-away-from kind of way that compelled me to watch. This is as much as I was able to glean from the entire series: Britney is a little more opaque than Kevin. She's a sweet girl, basically, she freaks out on airplanes, her skin breaks out, she's nice to her entourage (well, okay but who isn't?) and she plays games with her boyfriend, telling him she loves him and then taking it right back when he doesn't immediately return the sentiment.

Kevin, on the other hand. I'm sorry, that just felt like a complete sentence to me. We know Britney obviously thinks he's hott, she picked him out, but I can't even decide if I think he's good-looking, much less if there's anything to him. I'd write it off as being a function of my age that I'm unable to discern if Federline is cute, but it's well-known -- well, as well-known as me, whatever that means -- that I like younger guys. The point is, if I were sure that Kevin was either a) really cute or b) really smart or c) really funny d) really nice e) or even f) really famous, if he were in any obvious way at least one of the above, I could make some sense of it. Part of it was that he was always wearing a hat, and he has kind of sleepy eyes, and so basically all you could see of him was the lower part of his face, which was usually unshaven. Several episodes in, I finally detected some cuteness, from a strictly objective standpoint, anyway. He's got dimples, he's tall, and of course, I neglected to include in my alphabetical choices above, the possibility that he might be g) a bad boy. He left his pregnant girlfriend for Britney. So, by way of being a bad boy, he's definitely cute.

So Britney and Kevin romp around and have the sex and chew gum and smoke cigarettes and play mind games with each other and this is when it occurs to me that if you'd handed a video camera to any other two sexed-up kids from rural Louisiana and told them to make a TV show about themselves, or even if you kept Britney and Kevin, replaced the entourage with a bunch of kids from the 7-Eleven parking lot, and subtracted the scenes of Britney writhing around on the stage at Wembley Stadium, and somehow just forgot she was a huge, very wealthy pop star, you might get an identical show.

By contrast, getting back to my speculation about the greater meaning of our shared anniversary, if you handed me and Ben a video camera and asked us to make a TV show about ourselves, you would have a fascinating mix of us: reading, painting (but not necessarily watching it dry), sitting at the computer, driving around looking at empty buildings, lying in the hammock (quietly), going to Trader Joe's, and then a lot of us reading some more; reading the paper or reading in bed and of course, watching TV, on our TV show. (Not a lot of reading on Chaotic! Not nearly chaotic enough. Our show would have to be called Ordered!) You could occasionally replace Britney at Wembley Stadium with me at the Hideout (a tiny local bar situated on the end of a particularly dark, off the beaten path, on an if-you-want-to-kill-someone-this-might-be-a-good-place-to-drop-off-the-body kind of street), big surprise, reading, or Ben at Buddy Gallery playing with his band for an audience of thirty, but both of us almost always keep our midriffs covered. Lots of giggling, occasional spontaneous songs about breakfast or taking out the trash or poop. Okay, not higher class, clearly, but not the same class either, and the thing is that even if we went as far as making this TV show and even if we thought it was really interesting and should be broadcast for the good of the people, so that people could, you know, know the real us, so that they could try to handle our truth, we probably wouldn't subject even our closest friends to a private screening. We're just hoping they can tolerate our wedding movie when the time comes.

So of course I had to tune in to the series finale to see their wedding.

Things we did not have in common at our wedding:

1. Ben did not wear matching four-carat diamond studs in his ears, or even a single.
2. Sixty hundred million fewer roses.
3. Budget for our entire wedding probably = less than Federlines' rose budget by a lot.
4. Paparazzi manageable.
5. I kept on my wedding dress the whole time instead of changing into a hoochie mini-dress.
6. I opted not to have Ben remove a garter I wasn't wearing with his teeth.
7. Ben has not publicly declared his love for me on TV by way of a montage of me dancing in fountains and in Wembley Stadiums, while emitting something vaguely moisture-related in the eye area.

Anyway, after that first episode I told Ben it was disappointingly boring, not even juicy or fun in an embarrassing way, and he said, "Are you sure you just couldn't handle her truth?"

I suppose I can't.


** From the editor: This piece went up on FRESH YARN just days before Britney announced she was filing for divorce. The author responds:

Post Script From The Author: Thoughts on The Demise of The Federline Union

Okay, fine. So you all knew. Call me crazy. I hoped for those crazy kids. I thought some burst of sanity, possibly related to the fact that they have two tiny Federlines, might suddenly hit them like a lightning bolt and convince them to give their marriage the old college try. Okay fine, so the word "college" probably isn't the best choice here. But the old HIgh School Equivalency try just doesn't roll off the tongue. I suppose you also knew K-Fed's destiny was always as baby daddy, and that knocking up only two women would rob the world of the highest possible number of Federlines.

I for sure can't handle that truth, but worse than that -- does this mean I'm never going to get to say Federline anymore?


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