LAST FRIDAY, a few dozen people suddenly started following me on Twitter.
"Cool," I thought. "All this writing is finally paying off."
I puffed my chest out, grateful that my eight novels and countless columns were earning me recognition where it counts - on Twitter. While silently thumbing my nose at those haughty book reviewers and the elitist snobs who run the New York Times best-sellers list, I began typing a tweet to thank the little people.
"At long last, after years of hard work and sacrifice, I've arrived among the giants in my craft. But I haven't done this alone. I'd like to thank all the editors and colleagues, fact checkers and interns, family, friends and readers who helped me along the way. I couldn't have gotten 30 new Twitter followers without you."
Unfortunately, that was 182 characters over Twitter's limit, so I settled for, "Top of the world Ma!"
I was just about to type it when two things occurred to me: My mom is not on Twitter, and most of the people who use social media are too young to relate to a quote from the 1949 James Cagney film, "White Heat."
As I tried to think of a more contemporary quote to memorialize my newfound Twitter fame, a Twitter user named @HowardBeckNYT wrote, "Can he rebound?"
That's when it hit me. These people weren't following me because my writing career had reached its apex. They were following me because they thought I was 6-foot-10 power forward Solomon Jones, who'd apparently just been traded to the New York Knicks.
It hurt. Knowing that they were following me because they thought I was a foot taller and nearly two decades younger spoke to all my insecurities. Sad fact is, I never quite reached six feet tall, I'm in my mid-forties, and I was never great at sports.
I stared at my computer screen, and suddenly I was 12 years old again, reliving those agonizing moments when I was the third-to-last-guy picked in the milk-crate basketball game; when I was routinely outplayed by superior athletes; and when I was stuck trying to defend a guy who was 50 pounds heavier than me.
Knowing that my Twitter rise was the result of being mistaken for an athlete was bad enough. It was even worse when I looked up young Solomon Jones, because he's not much better at basketball than I am.
I'm not hating on my young namesake. In fact, I'm glad to know he's paid well for averaging 3.1 points and 11 minutes per game. The way I figure it, that's good work if you can get it. So if the Knicks need another Solomon Jones, I'm available.
At 45, I might not be as spry as my younger namesake, but if they shoot my knees up with some cortisone and give me a lifetime supply of Bengay ointment, I'm probably good for 11 minutes a night. I'm not 6-foot-10, so I might not score 3.1 points per game. But I am pretty good at rhetoric, so I can make three valid points a game:
* Point 1: "Carmelo Anthony, I know you're the Knicks' star player and the NBA's top scorer, but you really need to pass the ball more."
* Point 2: "The rest of you stop shooting 3-pointers. They're not going in."
* Point 3: "While you're at it, play defense. You'd be surprised what can happen when the other team scores fewer points than you."
My three points would take about 30 seconds to explain, and they'd probably mean more than the 3 points my young namesake would score in 11 minutes. Of course, those points would be my only real contribution, since I have no basketball skills worth mentioning.
Still, if my editors at the Daily News decided to trade me to an NBA team, I'd consider it. After all, bad NBA players make more in a week than good writers make in a year. Plus they get to wear bling, pimp their rides and divorce devious women. What's not to like?
In fact, I could parlay my basketball career into a reality show. And you would watch it, because there's nothing more entertaining than a 45-year-old man hobbling up and down a basketball court with guys half his age and twice his size.
Sure I might get a few bumps and bruises, but I'd have plenty of Twitter followers and an endorsement deal with Ace bandages. In addition to becoming a spokesman for Icy Hot, I could be the guy to make anti-inflammatory medication cool again. And I'd always make my 3 points.
I have the perfect name for my show, too. I'll call it "Three the Hard Way." First episode airs next season.