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I was ogled last night by a very handsome, classy looking, much older man. Now most women (and I'm no exception) are secretly gratified by the occasional gawker ... unless catcalls and droopy drawers are involved. (Okay, maybe not the sponsors of the Anti-Ogling Addendum to the ERA.)

Unfortunately, I'm such an unobservant person, that I usually have to trip over an ogler to notice him. Here's a recent exchange with hubby Mark:

   Mark: Did you see that guy leering at you?

   Me: What guy?

   Mark: The one you just stepped on ... over there on the stretcher.

However, even I couldn't fail to catch last night's ogling. It lasted forty-five minutes, well beyond the flattering stage into the "keep your lascivious eyeballs to yourself, buster" stage.

But here's the thing -- I'm almost positive (although not lie detector positive) that those ogling eyes (and the rest of him) belonged to Paul Newman.

Yes, I know that sounds unlikely, if not downright absurd. What would Paul Newman be doing anywhere near me? And even if we did briefly and serendipitously share the same piece of real estate, surely he could find something better to eye. And why wasn't he busy dodging hordes of autograph hounds pestering ... and ogling ... him?

All good arguments! I'd be inclined to agree with you ... except for a few details:

   * He looked just like you'd expect Paul Newman to look without the help of movie makeup.

   * Our encounter (assuming we had an encounter) took place in New York City, across from Lincoln Center, a theater and concert hall haven -- a place that sees its fair (or unfair) share of celebrity traffic.

   * We "met" in the kind of spot you have to know about to know about, a hidden away, second floor, non-touristy bar smack in the middle of tourist-central. Precisely the sort of place a celebrity might hang out (and hide out) if he's waiting for his actress spouse to finish a Lincoln Center play or a Broadway performance. An ideal locale for celebs who "vant to be alone."

   * He was smoking a cigar. Scratch that. He was making love to a cigar in a way that nobody but a hotshot movie star would dare to do in public.

I almost forgot the most important piece of evidence: My husband Mark, who witnessed the ogling orgy while sitting across the bar from our great pal Paul, backs up my ID. And no, he didn't get even slightly jealous. In fact, his very words on the subject as I sashayed out the door (I just couldn't help myself), were, "Hahahaha. I'm with you, and he's not."

I should probably do something about this -- something of a journalistic nature. Like researching Paul Newman's current appearance sans makeup, his recent whereabouts, the bar's American Express receipts, and Joanne Woodward's acting gigs.

Between the Internet and a few phone calls, I should be able to crack this thing wide open in a matter of hours. I should really get started right away, or tomorrow at the very latest.

On the other hand, I have tons of other stuff to do, and there's really no rush. In fact, if I stall enough, the trail will grow cold.

And there will be no way to prove it wasn't Paul.

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