Why am I so happy?
I love having haters. It means I'm getting somewhere. Someone cares enough to hate me.
It used to bug me, but now I revel in it. This is the best attitude to have in my business, where you get your report cards from magazines, newspapers, and anybody with Internet access. I used to cry and worry, but now I just laugh. Unfortunately, Mother Mary doesn't feel the same way, and she was here when I won.
It wasn't pretty.
But it has a surprise ending.
I found out in the morning, when I got an e-mail from a beloved reader, who shows excellent taste in literature, except that she also reads this magazine. She wrote and told me that I had won the Worst Columnist award, and I laughed.
Mother Mary was next to me at the time, sitting at the kitchen island, having her mug of morning coffee. A whitish hunk of powdered-sugar doughnut floated inside, like an iceberg with saturated fats. She asked, "What's so funny?"
"Nothing," I answered, wisely. I was lying to protect the magazine staffers. I know what she's capable of.
Vendetta is an Italian word, for a reason.
She may be 87, but she can still wield a wooden spoon.
And she has a history of defending me that would shame a grizzly. Once, when I worked in a law firm and she thought I was working too hard, she told me she wanted to call the principal. In elementary school, when I got yelled at for something I didn't do, she wanted to call the governor.
Funny, the governor also won a Worst of Philly Award, for Worst Sports Column, but I didn't tell my mother that, either.
Personally, I don't want my governor to be a good sports columnist.
But I digress.
"No, really, what's so funny?" Mother Mary asks. "What are you looking at on the computer?"
"That's not funny."
"I know, I'm the Worst Columnist. It says so, right here."
"Who says that?" Her cloudy brown eyes flare behind her trifocals. She has a temper that goes from zero to explosive in sixty seconds. Nitroglycerin has a higher flash point.
"A magazine says it."
"Where? I want to see it!" Her face flushes, and she becomes a human thermometer, with all the blood rushing to her bulb.
"I don't have the magazine to show you."
She waves me off, with an arthritic hand. "Oh, you're only kidding. They don't say it. You're gonna give me a heart attack."
"No, I'm not kidding. They really said it."
"Then prove it. Show me the magazine."
"But I'd have to go out and buy it, and I don't want to."
"GO BUY IT!" Mother Mary points to the front door, and her sugar doughnut sinks into her coffee. So I leave the house, get in the car, drive to the store, and buy the magazine that officially trashes me, in print.
I bring home the magazine and show it to her.
"I can't read this magazine! The print is too small!"
So I read it to her. "It says I'm the Worst Columnist, see? Here?"
Mother Mary peers at the paragraph, red-faced. "This is terrible!"
"Not really, Ma."
"Yes, it is! They didn't mention me!"
Look for Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella's new book, "Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter," coming November 22. Visit Lisa at www.scottoline.com.