You've heard the story how I got sucked in. Here's how I got spit out.
If Michelle Williams was the beginning of the end, then Posh Spice was my undoing. Like every Gen-Y'er, I could tell you what I want, what I really, really want. Even if that thing was the incoherent "zig-a-zig-pie." But I had made the mistake of not keeping up with Victoria Beckham as she dropped the rest of the dollar-store dried parsley and transformed from merely a condiment to the whole spicy meatball - not that she would eat one.
So when I heard on the early radio gossip show which I only listened to since becoming Madame's flunky in the vague hope it would be able to make up for 10 years of cultural laxity, that "unauthorized" pictures of Posh had surfaced, I didn't know enough to drop my scrambled eggs and run for my computer. Apparently the pictures showed a small unidentified growth under her right armpit that the host insisted was evidence of her plastic surgery. Because we need evidence? But I jotted down the website anyhow.
Eventually when I made it onto the web, I typed it in and sure enough there were a few of the most unshocking pictures of Ms. Spice-Beckham I'd ever seen. (Seriously, if you caught the August 2007 cover of W then you're already 10 steps down the skank path from these pics.) There was no explanation other than a melodramatic "See these pictures now before her lawyers get to us! They won't be here long! Tell the world!!!!" Tell the world what, exactly? That Posh has a huge skin tag? Cancer of the armpit? A too-tight shirt and a phenomenon women around the world know as "armpit boobs"?
Still, I was becoming accustomed to the minutiae of Celebrity Blogging and besides my morning push started in a mere hour. Plus the pictures were high-res and in my book that was reason enough to use them, even if they had been, say, Madeleine Albright in a bikini. Armpit boobs it was.
Suddenly, shaming lazy abusive boyfriends everywhere, Madame's pre-dawn stalker e-mail arrived, wanting to know what I was working on. Her "crisis of a personal nature" obviously didn't involve her fingers, retinas or perfectionism. I told her about the radio show only to be interrupted with "U got scooped by RADIO??? Our readers go to US first!!!!" - thereby making up for an entire week's worth of omitted punctuation.
I didn't bother pointing out that a) I'm not psychic and b) none of the other celeb-sites were reporting it either. Somewhere a radio reporter was cackling gleefully. Radio: 2 Internet: 8,234,987,201 (in 2.3 seconds) I threw the post up and e-mailed her the source link, feeling a teeny bit excited that we were the first site to report it. An uncharacteristic silence reverberated from her BlackBerry. I took that to mean she was proud.
I would be wrong.
Madame: WHAT HAVE U DONE
Madame: Am taking it down
Madame: Obv faked
Me: If using photoshopped pics is off limits, we'll have to retract 70% of our posts, including every magazine cover you've ever ran. I didn't add, "If honesty were truly a virtue then there goes the remaining 30% and you'll have to go back to selling beanie babies on E-Bay."
Madame: Lawyers (the "idiot" was implied)
Me: I thought we didn't have to worry about that (See Williams, Michelle).
Madame: Idiot (no longer implied)
Me: Thank you?
Madame: THIS IS VICTORIA BECKHAM
Me: Yes, we've established that
Madame: $$$ = LAWYERS
Me: Which is why we never cover Tom Cruise?
Madame: Look... this isn't working out
And then I knew what was coming. A brief flare of indignation.
Me: Are you firing me?
Madame: Your morning push is late
Me: But I HATE this job! You at least owe me the dignity of QUITTING.
Madame: Don't owe you anything
Me: Crap. Does this mean I'm not getting paid?
(Note: In writing this article, I did go back and try to find the original Posh Spice Underarm Growth pictures. Not that I tried very hard, but I did google at least seven different search strings, and nothing came up. As far as I can tell the original site was pulled and no other celeb blogs reported on it. Apparently the lawyers got us.)