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My Top (Chef) Twitter incident of 2011

This year has proved just how easy it is to use Twitter and show a side of yourself that is perhaps not the finest. Consider, for instance, this encounter with Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio.

The year gone by saw Twitter become the medium where the message was, sometimes, "Oh, Lordy. I shouldn't have done that."

Some would divide Twitter's history into two distinct periods: before Anthony's Weiner's penis and after.

Yet who are we to cast stones at Twitterati when we have occasionally betwitted the social network ourselves? So please let me share my own encounter with a celebrity who seemed to reveal a lot more about his sensitivities than one might have imagined he would.

Here's what happened.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I was walking up New York's Sixth Avenue, and walking down was Tom Colicchio of "Top Chef." Yes, the one who stands next to Padma Lakshmi and actually does know something about cooking.

This is a man I admire. He is a wonderful cook. And he does seem so very self-possessed. He has that rakish gaze that melts women, men, and frozen yogurt.

Yet I was surprised that he wasn't very tall. He also seemed extremely pale. It was a sunny day, but his face was whiter than my mom's first freezer.

Just to show how we're all vulnerable to random tweeting, I grasped my iPhone and tweeted: "Just passed @tomcolicchio on 6th ave. He's shorter than me and very pale."

I thought nothing more of it. That's the point about Twitter. It can be so natural that you do it before you even realize that you've done it.

Not so many minutes later, the great man tweeted straight back. He didn't seem very pleased. His tone seemed to enjoy an ingredient of defensiveness.

"Yes I'm 5'9". And white," he tweeted.

He didn't need to tweet at me, to me, or through me. He is very famous. Even if he is isn't entirely tall. It's not as if I'd even said he was short. I simply had blurted that he was shorter than me. For all he knew, I am 6' 10". Which I am, but merely in my dreams.

And yet there he was, apparently exposing what seemed a certain almost Napoleonic touchiness about what only some might see as a shortcoming -- or even a shortercoming.

Naturally, I tried to assuage his feelings by tweeting him back and explaining that my eyes had not deceived me for he is, indeed, shorter than me by some three (or five) inches.

I never heard from him again. Dear Mr. Colicchio, I still love your show. I adore the way you can look at competing chefs and, with just a twitch of one lip, say: "You are so screwed, buddy."

I still admire the gaze that could turn a swan into a rabbit at 20 paces. And no woman or man I know cares that you might not be six feet tall. Please let me eat your food again. Please don't be cross any more.

It's OK to be 5'8." Or 5'9"(ish).