On Friday, writer TJ Sullivan ignored the self-preservation instincts that allowed him to survive to adulthood by braving the swarming, Sharpie-wielding throng gathered at the West L.A. Best Buy, where self-contained celebutard industry Paris Hilton was signing her new CD. (We imagine that those seeking to have copies of the book she didn't write, bottles of her perfume, or One Night in Paris-branded, Swarovski crystal-encrusted, rubberized replicas of her vagina personalized weren't turned away. She's nothing if not fan-friendly.) Unsurprisingly, Sullivan discovered a poorly organized event that quickly plunged him into the depths of existential despair over the plight of those who'd waste hours of their time waiting for an audience with Hilton:

I'm no expert on celebrity book/cd signings. I can only recall ever covering one book signing, and that was for an auto writer named "Landspeed Louise." Still, all the celebrity events I've ever attended were credentialed with lots of ropes and guys with wires coming out their ears. This was nothing like that. This was, to my untrained eye, a free-for-all.

The story in the LA Times, KIIS FM, and a banner on the store got the word out about the event. I was running an errand when I drove past the store at about 5 p.m., two hours before Hilton's scheduled arrival, and already the line was halfway down the side of the building (It was the Best Buy at Pico and Sawtelle). The people at the start of the line were likely there for hours. KIIS FM had a DJ in a tent out front and, for a time, there were two black Suburbans parked in the fire lane outside the front doors. At one point a guy with a lost look on his face drove up, rolled down his car window and asked me "are they open?" Poor guy was probably hoping to shop for a television and he couldn't even find a place to park.

I left an hour after the autograph signing began and the queue outside had barely moved.

I'll forever be intrigued with people who stand in line to meet celebrities. Why do they do it? Is it worth it? Do they forever look back upon it as a happy memory, and if so, why?

One could easily go mad trying to understand the mind of Paris' fans, but Sullivan has obviously never stayed for the spectacular, life-transformative finale of a Hilton publicity appearance, when the heiress selects one lucky little girl from the crowd, magically lobotomizes her with a laying-on of exquisitely manicured hands, then sends the docile, heiress-blessed child back to her parents with a new pet chihuahua. Lines are already forming in anticipation of the promotional miracle she'll be performing at the Target in Burbank in early December.

[Photo: TJ Sullivan in LA.com]