Still, we doubt Astley would have influenced the scores of fans who flooded the FCC with letters demanding a recount of the neck-and-neck Idol vote. ''I guess on one hand it's flattering because people really wanted me to win,'' Aiken says of the grassroots campaign. ''But it's over. And I'm perfectly fine. I think people feel like I feel slighted. 'Oh, poor Clay, we want to fight for him.' You don't need to fight for me. I'm perfectly happy. I would be much happier if these people would put their time and energy into the Autism Society. Leave the FCC alone, leave Ruben alone, leave me alone.''
Given today's fickle pop-music world, Aiken knows that wish could soon come true. Maybe his album will be the beginning of a long musical legacy (we can dream, can't we?). Or perhaps today's Idol will indeed be tomorrow's aspiring high school principal. ''How many eggs do I put into this basket?'' says Aiken, his voice still echoing through the bathroom. ''In two years, am I going to be [first Survivor winner] Richard Hatch? Is this going to be my life and my career, or is this going to be a great summer-camp memory for me? I don't know. That's what makes it scary.'' Frightening enough to make someone head straight for the john.