© St. Petersburg Times, published June 14, 2002
I'm here in the mailbox. Thought you'd never get home. Jeepers, look at the size of that water bill. Would you believe all these equity offers? Sorry, I stepped on your VISA statement.
Forgive my manners.
I'm pretending to be "the unwanted guest."
I READ THIS on a flier the other day.
"City Times IS the unwanted guest."
I looked more closely for the source of this unprovoked hostility. There it was, in small type. The Tampa Tribune.
The Trib's advertising department and pollsters had pushed aside the topics of homeland security, world hunger and global warming to take on City Times.
What could it mean?
I consulted the Internet.
"Unwanted guest" brought up ants, terrorists, roaches, mice, food poisoning, junk e-mail, water chestnuts, squirrels, robbers and head colds.
"If the invading force is strong and the chi is weak," I learn, "the Chinese say that an 'unwanted guest' may enter the house."
Pour salt on an unwanted guest and it will disappear, I read.
I vow to avoid soy sauce.
ONLY A FEW weeks ago, I had made nice with the Tribune.
I delivered homemade batches of chocolate marshmallow cream fudge and black walnut brownies to my former co-workers there.
I considered the food drop a U.N. relief mission to City Times sympathizers trapped behind enemy lines.
Not a crumb came back.
IN A CHARMING yet glass half-empty kind of way, the Trib pollsters concluded this: Half the people who get City Times -- including thousands who get it free by mail -- read it almost every week.
Is George W. Bush, who got half the vote, an unwanted guest?
Don't answer that.
BESIDES, guests we are not. City Times is produced almost exclusively by South Tampa residents.
NOT LONG AGO, the Trib came close to declaring baseball the unwanted sport.
I guess City Times is in good company.
I have plenty of brownies to bring.
-- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or email@example.com.