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There’s no future in being a bad girl

Wow. It’s been a big week for bad girls. Well, certain bad girls.

Nicole Richie got busted for driving under the influence and spent all of 82 minutes of her 96-hour sentence. That’s like a minute a pound for the emaciated celebrity. I guess she got time off for good behavior.

Lindsay Lohan, after a spectacular run of public bad behavior, will have to serve much longer. She’ll spend a whole night in jail.

If every other aspect of my frayed-at-the-edges life didn’t make it obvious, these girls – and the way they breeze through life – makes it crystal clear: We don’t even live on the same planet.

In their world life is one long party. In my world, the real world, life is a party only if I’m willing to do the work. And pay the price. And clean up after.

In my world, no one takes my calls, handles the schedule or keeps unpleasantness at bay. There is no assistant, or publicist or trainer.

I guess I do have a posse, but my hangers-on are the four human beings I brought into the world and they’re not impressed by anything I say or do.

In my world, if I break a rule and I get caught (and I always get caught), I have to pay. That’s why the nice people at the courthouse always smile when I come in to pay a parking fine or a speeding ticket. That’s why librarians and the clerk at the video rental store like me. They do their part, I do mine.

In my world, designers don’t fight to be the first at the door with free clothes and shoes and purses. It’s up to me to show up for work and do the job well so I can write the check to pay for the trappings. It’s up to me to take care of the laundry and the mending and to balance the checkbook. Maybe that’s why I’m so grateful for what I have.

In my world, getting dressed to go out doesn’t include house calls from stylists to pick out my clothes or do my hair. No home visit for a little Botox or liposuction or hair extensions.

In my world, pantyhose, underwire bra and department store make-up aside, what you see is pretty close to reality. Maybe that explains why there are no photographers waiting outside the door anxious to follow my every move, but that’s OK.

I’m not a star. I’m not a luminous young celebrity who has the world on a string. I’m a middle-aged woman, a mother, a full-time employee – a housekeeper, grocery shopper and chauffeur who doesn’t always get a break.

And, looking at the headlines about young women like Lindsay, Nicole and Paris, like Britney and the rest of the golden celebutantes who have nothing more to worry about than milking their latest escapade for maximum publicity, I’m OK with that.

But I’ve got three daughters, and there’s one thing I need to teach my girls: In our world, when we hurt someone, or ourselves, we have to answer for it. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen, letting the photographer’s flash blind us to what we’ve said or done.

I have to show them that we’re bound by the pull of responsibility and accountability, the sense that what we do or don’t do can make a real difference in our own lives and the lives of others.

Being a bad girl gets you in the headlines. For a while. But it’s a short career. And there’s no retirement plan.

Life in my world isn’t glamorous. Most of the time it isn’t even exciting. But it’s real.

And real, unlike the mercurial fantasy of the Hollywood “it” girl, is something you can hold on to.