I Eat My Young

Popular Post columnist comes clean, unleashing a cavalcade of confessions

Tell-all brown stains are sure to mark the scene if and when Post-Dispatch Editor Ellen Soeteber asks her top columnists to confess their misdeeds.

Imagine the outpouring when the Nurse Ratched of the newsroom asks: "Who here's pulled a Bob Greene?"

Greene, of course, is the writer forced to exit the Chicago Tribune after admitting to an affair with a teenager. The Worm doesn't expect Soeteber to uncover similar evildoing at her newspaper: The chance of a Post columnist's coaxing anybody into bed -- let alone a teenager -- seems remote. Indeed, until recently, nobody would have thought a Post columnist ever did anything truly wicked -- or, for that matter, interesting.

That changed last week, when "Everyday" section scribe Betty Cuniberti confessed to readers that she'd locked up a two-year-old just because she wanted to eat in peace.

In a riff last week on Madelyne Gorman Toogood, the Indiana mother who turned her papoose into a punching bag, Cuniberti admitted taking her screaming toddler out of a restaurant, strapping her in a car seat, locking the car door and then returning to the restaurant to finish lunch.

"A stupid, heartless mistake" is how Cuniberti described this mother of a moment.

"A brilliant way to connect with real people" is how Cuniberti's editor described the confession.

"Betty touched a chord with every mother who ever wanted to take down a minor or small animal," says Ed Trimchopper, assistant managing editor for investigations and crossword puzzles.

Reader response to Cuniberti's column's been so positive that other green-eyed Posties are planning their own confessionals.

Wormie's been snooping. Here's a sampling of headlines to come:

"Betty locked up hers, but I bloodied mine!"

"This'll hurt me more than it'll hurt you!"

"I'll show you who's the Boss."

"My cats had to die for journalism."

As for yours truly, the Worm admits nothing.

GOTCHA! The Worm hears St. Louis Treasurer Larry "Pocketful of Nickels" Williams wants a radio-dispatched parking-meter system that's guaranteed to nail parking-time bandits. The high-tech system, which Boeing also is adapting to use against Iraqi double-parkers, uses laser sensors to detect whether a vehicle still occupies a space at the very instant time expires on the meter. If it does, a meter reader on a Vespa scooter is instantly dispatched. Extra parking fines would pay for Larry's new downtown baseball stadium and car wash.