SOME DAYS, I wonder if the affection I feel from my fellow
columnists is real or a veneer of pretense over an underlying jealousy of my copious talents, stunning beauty and total perfection.
I mean, CBS 3 news anchors Larry Mendte and Alycia Lane sure seemed like BFFs when they were on camera. Who knew that, off the air, things were so weird with Larry that he's alleged to have hacked into Alycia's e-mail account?
What if similar tensions are going unacknowledged between me and my colleagues? Wouldn't it be better for me to acknowledge and resolve them, before relationships are irreparably harmed?
So I spent a day hacking into my co-workers' e-mail (the feds call it a crime; I call it visual eavesdropping) to assess the state of our connection.
I got an eyeful.
I started with our venerable political columnist, John Baer. The subject line of his e-mail to Daily News fitness columnist Kimberly Garrison read: "URGENT! READ THIS!"
"Kim," he wrote, "I've run the numbers on that chain of kick-boxing studios you want me to invest in. They look good, so count me in. But if I were you, I'd cross Ronnie off your list of potential backers. I hear her finances are a train-wreck. Try Stu Bykofsky instead. He snorkels in the islands every year. I'll bet he's loaded."
But Stu wasn't interested, he told Kim in a resulting e-mail. He planned to open a dog spa when he retired, so his dollars were spoken for.
"I'm going to give Ronnie some free coupons, so we can groom her animals," Stu wrote. "Those poor hounds are the scruffiest mutts I've ever seen."
I knew people were talking about me here.
Speaking of talk, Tattle columnist Howard Gensler started what I am sure he thought was a hilarious back-and-forth with TV critic Ellen Gray and columnist Jenice Armstrong about whether American Idol fans had delusions of their own grandeur.
"Well," Ellen wrote at 2:31 p.m., "I know that Ronnie is a big fan, so that tells us something, right?"
"LOL!" wrote Jenice at 2:32.
"Who's Ronnie?" lobbed Howard at 2:33. "Ha-ha!"
Ha-ha, yourself, Ha-Ha-Howie.
Surely, I thought, snooping through hundreds of newsroom e-mails, someone wrote helpful things about me? So I was gratified that Jill Porter sent an e-mail that acknowledged the crackerjack job I was doing in collecting money for a departing editor's going-away gift.
"Please, everyone, pay Ronnie soon, so she'll stop hounding us!" Jill wrote to editorial diva Sandy Shea, cartoonist Signe Wilkinson and columnist Elmer Smith. "She's like a Mafia wife, without the good nails, IMHO. At least she's getting the job done. Just pay her already, OK?"
I'm flattered that Jill saw me as such a competent collections agent. I only wish she'd thought to tell me so. It would've meant the world to me.
There was more, of course, since I am obviously the subject of much discussion, as anyone of my status would be.
Attytood blogger Will Bunch initiated a raucous e-mail chat with movie critic Gary Thompson and music reviewer Jon Takiff about how they wished I'd develop my own reality-TV show so that "we wouldn't have to read her melodrama any more."
"But what would they call it?" Jon asked.
"How about Two Hankies and Two Thumbs Down?" Gary quickly responded.
Clever, fellas. Very clever.
And gossipologist Dan Gross wasted a surprising amount of pixels altering my online head-shot to see how I'd look with a slimmed-down face and a goatee, which he then e-mailed to
Phables cartoonist Brad Guigar.
"Don't show this to Ronnie," Dan warned. "As we all know, the only thing thin about her is her skin!"
FYI, Dan: I'm big-boned, OK?
After hours of trolling for something nice to read about me, from people whom I'd thought were my admirers, it was discouraging to see myself through their eyes: as a neurotic, broke, chubby narcissist who can't even keep her pets clean.
So thank God that Daily News editor Michael Days e-mailed a kind note to Clout columnist Gar Joseph, saying how much he enjoyed a recent column of mine that wound up on the newspaper's front page.
"Ronnie is at her best when she gets off her butt and actually does some real reporting," he wrote to Gar, "instead of scanning e-mail all day and acting suspicious when I ask her, 'Reading anything good?' "
I'll take that as a compliment.
And I'll log off before the feds get here. *
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