It's a Friday night in March at Rain nightclub, and the Twittering crowd is all atwitter for Britney Spears. She will consume the stage at any moment, as any 29-year-old dinosaur would.
The mother of two, the World's Most Famous Ex-Virgin, will perform just three songs, heralding a new album, "Femme Fatale" (for which she's heading to town in support of this weekend).
The album's 12 songs boast 43 writing credits and none of them is Britney, whose recorded voice is constantly altered by voice modulators: a figurehead in the Age of Fools.
MTV is here to record this spectacle for the channel's fractured demographic of 11-year-old boys who are not yet allowed to watch YouPorn instead.
DJ Pauly D is spinning songs before Britney arrives. His hair is a black-tar wave of viscosity, resembling Guile from the "Street Fighter" video games. (Pauly D plays one song twice within a few minutes. This is unexpected.)
In a VIP area next to the stage comes word that Britney was seen inside Rain earlier in the evening, wearing her stage costumes, and she was ... "fat."
This, of course, means she is not fat, but "celebrity fat." We normal people can gobble on a few pounds and not be derided as butterballs. But if a star chunks out, look out! Tabloids and Dlisted.com will not be kind to Fat Britney any more than Johnny Carson was gentle with Fat Elvis.
Suddenly! It's Britney! She's fat! And she's wearing an outfit that looks four sizes too small. Woof-a-crikey-doodle-dong. Man alive, does she ever look super-duper fat -- celebrity fat. But still.
What is this new song she's lip-syncing? It's terrible.
What is this second song she's lip-syncing? It's terrible.
Third song. Terrible.
What is this dead look in Britney's eyes? Her dark irises are like a shark's eyes. They are, to quote Quint the shark hunter from "Jaws":
"Lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living ... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then ... ah, then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'."
If Britney were anybody else during this performance, I'd venture to guess she's on 100 oxycodones or lithium for bipolar disorder. But the word is out: Britney is clean, sober and has asked everyone on her tour to sign a contract to be as abstemious as her. So if she's not on drugs, what in the blazes is this blah-bidity-blah Britney?
Look now: Britney is standing on a platform. She needs to walk down a few stairs, but a couple of dancing guys help her take careful steps down just a few feet of navigation, while she keeps her lifeless eyes on her slow feet. What in tarnation?
How did B.S. arrive at this sluggish destination?
She used to be so quick and agile, in the manner of a shark or dare I say "fast as a fake virgin," dancing off her buns, hon' -- even if she was lip-syncing.
A decade ago, there was her speedily paced "Oops! ... I Did It Again World Tour" -- attended primarily by small, screaming tots and the moms who stared at them.
Then there was "The Onyx Hotel Tour" -- which drew crowds of an emerging gay following plus adult women who viewed B.S. as an icon for holding onto fame despite being photographed barefoot in a gas station restroom.
Now here comes the "Femme Fatale Tour." Let's check in on the reviews.
TheSuperficial.com headline: "Britney Spears Needs To Stop Touring." The critique: "People somehow keep paying money to see a linebacker's body crammed into skimpy outfits lazily perform basic choreography because she's medicated into submission."
Oakland Tribune headline: "Britney belly flops in San Jose."
Well, I could be wrong about B.S.'s quality of music and stage persona, and so could The Superficial, and so could the Oakland Tribune.
Maybe we are all wrong, except Britney. Maybe she is The Phoenix who will rise again and guide us into The Heavens of fun-i-tude. I await that possibility with the same expectation that she will someday earn her GED.
Doug Elfman's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Contact him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.