Who in their right mind would want to be famous?
I thought about that this week while watching YouTube footage of a minor sports celebrity picking his nose. And no, it wasn't former Falcons coach Bobby Petrino. He can't even pick a quarterback.
I mean, have you ever seen a candid shot of Britney in which she was smiling? Does George Bush look like he's have a good time? Do you think Tom Brady really enjoys having to decide between actresses and supermodels?
OK, forget that last one.
At the highest levels, fame can be positively brutal. Imagine spending one day in the kind of spotlight that's trained on Britney every second of her life. Under those conditions, you might be a little flaky, too - although you'd probably still wear appropriate undergarments in public.
Or consider, if you will, the case of Hillary Clinton. (C'mon. Humor me a moment.)
Whatever you think of Ms. Clinton's politics, objectively speaking, there's no question she's a smart, successful, attractive woman. OK, smart and successful.
And yet, if you were a visitor from another planet listening to conservative talk radio, you might think she's some sort of vicious, malevolent monster, like Grendel or Steve Spurrier.
Of course, if you were a visitor from another planet, you probably wouldn't be listening to talk radio to begin with. You'd probably be reading the New York Times so you'd feel less homesick.
Anyway, my point is that even though we all recognize how difficult the lives of famous people can be, many still yearn for the limelight. Perhaps that's because we perceive famous people as "having it all": large homes, fancy cars, jet-setting lifestyles, enhanced body parts.
Problem is, too many people these days achieve fame - or at least notoriety - without the payout. In our high-speed, high-def, wireless society, in which pictures of various activities are posted on the Internet practically before they happen, personal celebrity has become a virtual epidemic.
Used to be, if you screwed up, only a few people knew about it. Now housewives in Hong Kong are guffawing at the video.
And even those who do hit the lottery, so to speak, making a fortune to go with their fame, rarely live happily ever after. The personal lives of reality TV stars are notorious train wrecks, from Survivor's Richard Hatch to recently-dumped Dancing with the Stars heartthrob Helio Castroneves, who apparently cha-cha'ed when he should have tangoed.
Yes, Andy Warhol was more right than he knew when he prophesied that every person would eventually have his or her 15 minutes of fame. Or, as another great man - I think it was my grandfather - once said, "You can pick your nose and you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your friend's nose."
And if you're a Heisman candidate, you definitely can't pick your nose on the sidelines of a nationally-televised football game.