Several people have ask me why I haven’t yet tackled the topic of Charlie Sheen. I’ve considered it for a few weeks, but I always stopped. “Just wait,” my brain would say, “This isn’t the worst of it.” And I was right. Every time.

My daughter, a high school sophomore, came home a few weeks ago, with her feathers ruffled.

She breathlessly told the story of how a group of mean girls mistreated a boy in one of her classes. She had told me stories about the boy before. He is one of the special education students. He has a passion for movie/Broadway musicals. He learns the song and dance numbers from the musicals, perfectly, then likes to perform them for the class. My daughter says it’s crazy good, but sometimes disruptive. He’ll break out into a number when the teacher or another student is talking, or during designated quiet time, and he doesn’t really seem to know when to stop.

On the day my daughter was upset, the teacher had stepped out of the class and instructed them to read quietly. He left the door open and told them that if there were any problems, to go get the teacher directly across the hall, who also had left his door open. As soon as their teacher was gone, the girls got together and started bugging him to sing something. He said he didn’t feel like it, but they didn’t let up. Finally, he relented and performed. The girls filmed him, saying they were going to post the video on YouTube. When my daughter spoke up, the girls justified their behavior by saying “He WANTS to be famous. He LIKES it.”

Cut to me, deciding what to write about this week, while several people ask me why I haven’t yet tackled the topic of Charlie Sheen. In fact, I’ve considered it for a few weeks. I’ve even started writing this column, with him as the subject, a couple of times. But I always stopped. “Just wait,” my brain would say, “This isn’t the worst of it.”

And I was right. Every time.

Each week a little more madness creeps in. A little less boozy, floozy Uncle Charlie living in a fancy house on the beach in Malibu and raising up his chubby and sassy teen nephew and a little more the homeless guy who stands on the corner shouting at passersby and pigeons. He’s lost his show (though, naturally, he says, a new one is in the works), he’s lost his children (but, of course, he says, he and his ex-wife are working it out), he’s lost his ability to sit down and shut up. In other words, he doesn’t really seem to know when to stop.

And it’s hilarious. Of course it is. This guy is a walking meme. You can’t say “tiger blood” and “warlock” without being declared the winner of the internet, no matter who you are. Thankfully, Charlie also can’t go more than a few sentences without saying how much he’s winning, so that’s covered. Are you Team Sheen or Team, uh, wait, there IS no other team. Again, winning. Duh.

But I worry that high fiving Charlie Sheen, at this point, is a little like filming the song and dance kid and posting the video on YouTube. “He WANTS to be famous,” we tell ourselves, “He LIKES it.” And maybe he does. But does that mean he’s a person capable of deciding that for himself? Only time will tell.

Yes, I’VE made Charlie Sheen jokes. They were only mildly funny, at best, but I let them stand because I’m not pretending that I haven’t been entertained by his antics and I’m not on a soapbox, just giving food for thought. The truth about me is, I’m almost always uncomfortable with jokes I make at other people’s expense. My motto: “I’d make fun of myself for a sandwich, but I wouldn’t make fun of other people for one million sandwiches.” But that’s an exaggeration because I love sandwiches and a million of them would be mighty hard to resist, as long as it wasn’t a million of the same sandwich because, then, no way.

As for my daughter’s cruel classmates, one of them made the mistake of talking and laughing about their stunt, while the teacher was standing right behind her — like some perfect episode of Saved By The Bell. “Hahaha we totally fooled him into thinking he was cool and our stupid teacher was so dumb that he didn’t even oh my god he’s standing right behind me isn’t he?” Boom.

And, even if it turns out that Sheen IS the new Joaquin and this is some big publicity stunt or performance art piece where he proves he’s the greatest actor who’s ever lived…even if he’s putting one over every single one of us, I’ll be okay with that. And even a bit relieved. And still glad that I erred on the side of kindness. When I make that choice, I rarely regret it. The other choice, though, gives me a tummy ache.

For now, I think I’ll stick to not adding to the Sheen circus. That is, at least, until he does something REALLY hilarious. After all, I’m only human.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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