The Nastiest Thing I Ever Told Someone


Telling people about their bad press is a no-no, especially if you couch it in an “I’m so concerned for you” backdrop of fake-compassion.

At least the one time I alerted someone to a bit of bad publicity, I did it without any disingenuous charm whatsoever.

I was just flat out spiteful.

This was in the 1980s, when Spy magazine was roasting every power player in town–a fact that drove people crazy (especially when they weren’t mentioned at all).

One of the mag’s most popular monthly features was the “Separated at Birth” column, which posted adjacent photos of lookalikes–say, Mick Jagger and Don Knotts or “humorist Calvin Trillin and nonhumorist Lee Harvey Oswald.”

Well, when I saw a certain European party person at an event, I couldn’t wait to run up to her and tell her she was in the latest issue!

Partly, it was to convey my excitement about her getting publicity, but probably it was just a way to get her goat, since I never really got this lady.

“You’re in the new “Separated At Birth,” I gurgled to her, like a hairier Rhoda Penmark.

“Really–with who?” she asked, eyes ablaze.

This was my chance to just walk away or murmur “I forget,” but she was insisting, so I told her:

“Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes.”

She didn’t take it well.

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