Britney Spears and I are the same age. The fact affects me and has for years now – I mean way, way back to when Britney had perfectly crimped hair and fanned bangs on the Mickey Mouse Club in 1993. How was it possible, my twelve-year-old self wondered, that even though we’d been on the planet for the same exact amount of time she’s found her way to the top of the Mouseketeer roll call and I’m eating an Icee-Freeze, wondering why my parents don’t love each other anymore, and watching Disney Afternoon?

Even though she didn’t know it at the time (and still doesn’t know it), Britney and I were from that moment on locked in a battle for success. Who was having a more positive impact on the world? Who was creating the most art? Who was skinnier?

The problem faded away for a while but then reemerged when I headed off to college – around the same time that “…Baby One More Time” was sweeping across the world. Britney was getting exponentially cuter and more confident, running around in a Catholic school girl outfit and pink fuzzy pig tails, telling people to hit her. I was becoming even more withdrawn and mousy. I had cut off all my (mousy brown) hair, started wearing only second-hand clothes (no plaid, no skirts, no fuzzy pink things, nothing tied at the midriff), and shirked from any sort of attention. You know what they say, if you can’t beat them, act apathetic and listen to a lot of Ani Difranco albums.

During the next four years, Britney pulled way ahead of me in every aspect of our rivalry. Somehow, her boobs got bigger and her abs got harder while I struggled to take off weight I had gained in college. She found love and married and became impregnated while I struggled to find a lasting and meaningful relationship that I felt comfortable becoming impregnated in. She sold 76 million records, while I sold none – not even one! But even more damning than all of these things was the fact that she wrote a book – a novel – called A Mother’s Gift, while I struggled to get anything published at all.

But then, maybe a year or two ago, things started to turn around for both Brit and me. Her marriage fell apart and her career came to a slow stop. Her state of impregnation turned into a baby somehow – a real baby that she had to take care of all the time and look out for. Then she became impregnated again and had another responsibility-addled baby. She even started chewing gum in public and agreeing with the president.

 I, on the other hand, had spent my time earning a master’s degree, dating someone hotter than (and with fewer cornrows than) Kevin Federine, and regularly going to the gym. I published some articles, cared responsibly for a cat, and never chewed gum on stage or in interviews (of which I had none).

But the real tipping point came last night. Although I still have nightmares about the last MTV Video Music Awards that Britney performed in, in which she wore nothing but a sparkly nude skintight spandex body suit and a python and in which she looked like a nude sparkly snake goddess, I still decided to tune in to last night’s broadcast to see how Brit was doing.

And there she was – lackadaisical, ill-prepared, and most importantly, the same weight as me. I could feel my confidence mount immediately – perhaps Brit didn’t even know what lackadaisical meant! Perhaps there was hope for me yet in the world!  Although her new, terrible song “Gimme More” started with the lyrics “It’s Britney, Bitch,” it was clear that Britney was not quite back at all… Bitch. Even though her revealing outfit sparkled as much as it always has, her inner sparkle was little more than a dull flicker. All I have to do is sell a few million albums, and we might very well end up tied.