Every once in a while, a truly amazing period in human history occurs, a time that will be remembered as pivotal in the shaping of the way we live. This past January was one of those times.

In politics, both John Kerry and John Edwards bested the pundit-anointed front-runner Howard Dean in the Iowa caucus, turning the caucus into a game of Fantasy Punditry. In science, the Mars rover beamed photos of a parched landscape, prompting the age-old question: Is there life in West Texas?

But the event that wowed the most people occurred in the world of arts and was phrased subtly by the press in the form of another question: BRITNEY: OUT OF CONTROL?

After considerable thought, which is to say, while standing in front of the refrigerator with its door open trying to decide what to snack on, I have come up with what I think you'll agree is the definitive answer. Maybe.

Let me qualify that. I say maybe, but not because Britney Spears was married, and immediately divorced, in Las Vegas. That is something people do all the time. Especially young people. Especially young people visiting Las Vegas.

How do I know? Because I almost did.

Before telling you what happened, let me just say that I think there should be a warning label on that time in a person's life. CAUTION: BEING, OH, 19 TO AROUND 24 IS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR SELF-IMAGE AND LEADS TO REALLY STUPID BEHAVIOR. THE SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES STRONGLY RECOMMENDS THAT YOU IMMEDIATELY TURN 25.

Everybody does crazy stuff at that age. Everybody I knew, anyway. In fact, we would not have been out of place under a banner tabloid headline screaming OUT OF CONTROL?

And that was without even stepping foot in Vegas. People do things in Las Vegas that they just don't do at home. Or anywhere else, for that matter. That is part of its allure. I have no idea what the city's slogan is, but it might as well be, VEGAS - OUT OF CONTROL! Which, as it happens, might also be the slogan for early twenty-somethings.