From time to time the news cycle offers up an event of such import and complexity that it can only be comprehended through the medium of musical theater. This week resident composer Ben Greenman ponders recent events surrounding Lindsay Lohan.

[LINDSAY LOHAN is out driving when she crashes her car. She is being followed by paparazzi, one of whom calls his editor on his cell phone.]


She was DUI and

Her car jumped a curb. She

Plowed into a tree. No,

She wasn't driving Herbie.

The rumors are just starting

And the whispers getting louder

Inside the car the cops have found

An as-yet-unknown powder

Soon I will send you these photos

Of the starlet alone and forsaken

Don't you have to go write some copy

To run alongside the pictures I've taken?

[The EDITOR laughs.]


You know how we sometimes write obits

When celebrities are still alive?

Well, this story with Lindsay and coke in the car

Has been filed since two thousand five

So you just stay there at the scene

And do the things you do

Flash for cash, remember

And if she leaves—pursue, pursue!


Yes sir. I know my job.

I will fulfill my duty

I'll document the downfall

Of this tragic beauty

I'm even wearing a diaper

Just like that astronaut

It lets me stay in the car all day

And get the perfect shot.

[LINDSAY is taken to the police station. A kindly old police sergeant processes her. Though she is not entirely coherent, she does manage to grab his wrist.]


Are they still out there?

I'm sure that they are

They've surrounded the building

As well as my car

Send them away

The vultures and vipers

The scavengers, stalkers,

And digital snipers

[LINDSAY is processed and released to the hospital for treatment. The next day, she makes a statement.]


This was more than a warning sign

This was my Waterloo

Now I know how to behave

As I will prove to all of you

[The day after that, LINDSAY is in her friend Samantha Ronson's car, either tired or sick or drunk or high or all four. While she in the car, paparazzi collect like flies and begin to photograph the scene. Inside the car, as LINDSAY drifts in and out of consciousness, a SPIRIT appears to her. At first it looks like Meryl Streep, Lindsay's co-star in the major motion picture "Prairie Home Companion," but the Meryl Streep spirit takes one look at Lindsay, shakes her head, and vanishes. The spirit reappears in the form of Tyra Banks, Lindsay's co-star in the 2000 TV movie "Life-Size."]




I'm here to help you!


Leave me alone

I'm never alone

I threw out my Sidekick

And poured Red Bull on my phone


I don't understand

Your angry resistance

I have appeared to you

To offer my assistance

Your life has been a tale

Of successes and temptations

To make sense of it all

Here are three visitations

[SPIRIT TYRA dissolves and reconstitutes inside the car.]


In Parent Trap your dual role

Made up almost half the cast

Now that you're in an apparent trap

Please welcome the ghost of Lindsay past

[Twelve-year-old LINDSAY appears.]


I'm apple-cheeked

I'm cute and clever

But no one stays like that forever

In a few years

I'll be an adult

What, I wonder, will be the result?

[LINDSAY reaches to touch THE GHOST OF LINDSAY PAST, who vanishes in a puff of acrid smoke. LINDSAY forces open the car door and runs to the bushes. A moment later, she returns to the car.]


You vomited on the sidewalk

Which was quite unpleasant

But never mind that now

Here comes the ghost of Lindsay present

[LINDSAY waits. No ghost appears. SPIRIT TYRA looks at her watch. Still no GHOST OF LINDSAY PRESENT.]


She's not coming

Don't you see?

She's not coming

'Cause she's me

I'm not talking metaphysics

Or anything sublime

I just mean to say that

It's hard for me to be on time


Well, what do we do now

With this unfortunate delay?

Should I put on the fat suit

And do an exposé?

[LINDSAY explains to SPIRIT TYRA that she can speak on behalf of the GHOST OF LINDSAY PRESENT.]


I know that I am headed

Down a fateful road

And that I seem to squander

The gifts that fate's bestowed

But I'm not sure if anyone

Can really understand

The way that this fame feels

It sears you like a brand

When I out-Britney Britney

And I out-Paris Paris

You'd think I'd be ashamed

Or at the very least embarrassed

But think about it this way:

What if they took your flaws

And magnified them monstrously

Without pity or pause?

So maybe my self control

Is a little loose now

I hope to god it doesn't

Land me in the hoosegow

[SPIRIT TYRA interrupts her.]


Silence, now, please - my spectral sixth sense

Feels a dark presence from twenty years hence

[The GHOST OF LINDSAY FUTURE appears outside the car door, dressed like a doctor. SPIRIT TYRA flies to the background, produces a dictionary, and looks up "hoosegow."]


That's so freakin' weird

Lindsay Lohan, M.D.

Is that the plot

Of Mean Girls 3?


No, you don't understand.

I'm not playing a part.

I'm really a doctor.


You mean that I'm smart?


You might well be brilliant

How the hell would you know?

You've majored in movies

And parties and blow


Well, I was famous early

For acting, which demands

A certain extroversion.

Fame makes all your plans.

But here you are, a doctor

Let me apologize

That you have to see me

Through your educated eyes

[The GHOST OF LINDSAY FUTURE smiles sympathetically.]


You should not be sorry

Not even for a minute

My life only has its riches

Because you put them in it

I remember all of it

The peaks, the flats, the troughs,

The lines we ran, the lines we did,

The putting-ons, the taking-offs.

It was my wild youth then

I treasure that which I recall

Once I was with Reggie Bush

Naked in a shower stall.


You mean it? You're not mad?

You like the life you've had?


Up to a point I love it

But that point was yesterday

Now it's time to take yourself

In hand and find your way

[The GHOST OF LINDSAY FUTURE takes LINDSAY by the hand. The two of them fly out of the car into the sky. SPIRIT TYRA does not like this development. "This isn't the plan," she says. "Come back or I'll put you in the hoosegow." LINDSAY and the GHOST OF LINDSAY FUTURE sing a duet.]


A young person gets rowdy

A young person gets mad

A young person can't always

Distinguish good from bad

A young person gets horny

A young person gets high

A young person's designed

To sometimes go awry

But a young person gets older

A young person grows up

A young person begins to put

Less vodka in her coffee cup

[The GHOST OF LINDSAY FUTUE abruptly drops LINDSAY. As LINDSAY falls, screaming, the GHOST OF LINDSAY FUTURE sings one more verse by herself.]


When there's too much attention

Before a person's done cooking

It all ends in tears

Now let's finish the booking

[LINDSAY falls to the ground, but she does not crash into Samantha Ronson's car. Instead, she finds herself back in the police station, the day after the coke DUI. The kindly old police sergeant is still processing her. He winks. "Have you ever played a doctor?" he says.]


What stretches before me

Is as yet unknown

There's time to evolve,

To learn, to atone

What stretches before me

Is an expanse of years

What ends in great joy

Can start with hot tears.

[She begins to cry.]

Ben Greenman is an editor at the New Yorker and the author of several books of fiction. His latest book, A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both, was recently published.

Previously: Fragments from 'Rupert! The Musical'