Never mind Steven Brill.

This is really hot. This is the story of my cat fight with Monica.It was a dark and stormy Monday night. I was sitting at my desk, trying to do three months' worth of travel expenses so that American Express would stop using those tiresome words "declined," "denied" and "not a prayer."

The phone rang. It was my friend Duffy from Time. He offered to whisk me off to the Bombay Club, an Indian restaurant across the street, where I could revive my spirits.

I was coming back from the ladies' room when I saw her. She looked demure. Oval wire-rimmed glasses. A sky-blue jacket buttoned over a long black and white flowered skirt. The strong jaw line and wide smile turning down at the edges were familiar. I am, after all, a trained observer.

"That girl looks a little like Monica," I told Duffy.

"It is Monica, stupid," he replied. "See, she's with her father and stepmother and her mother and her mother's fiance."

What cheek! Monica Lewinsky had come to Chelsea Clinton's favorite restaurant, right across the park from the White House, the one where Chelsea celebrated her 17th birthday with her parents.

Her presence at the Bombay Club suggested the former intern was still trying to grab the president's attention like some love-struck teenager, loitering outside Billy Clinton's biology class.

I mean, what was that Vanity Fair photo spread about, if not casting a come-hither look at the president?

In person, Ms. Lewinsky did not come across as a vulnerable victim or dizzy Valley Girl. She was sipping a Cosmopolitan and striding around with blazing confidence. You could see how, with a pizza or Starbucks latte as a prop, she could easily talk her way into any office, even an Oval one.

At one point, she bounded over to the piano player to request a song. On the way back, she stopped to say hello to Duffy, whom she had previously met. He introduced us. Her smile went cold.

She leaned over, bracing her hands on her knees, so that our eyes were level. She was In My Face.

"Do you mind if I ask you something?" she said, poised and icy. "Why do you write such scathing articles about me?"

Now, in the three years I've had this column, which occasionally requires me to be a teensy-weensy bit critical, I've always been afraid someone I've written about would throw a drink in my face or otherwise upbraid me in public. But so far nobody had. Suddenly, I experience deep impact, and it's Monica!

I didn't reply at first. My brain was fogged with chilling images of Monica and me wrestling on the floor like in "Dynasty" when Joan Collins and Linda Evans pull each other's hair in the pool at the Four Seasons restaurant.

I tried to pull myself together and come up with an answer.

I might have told her what my mother had told me when I was about her age: Stay away from married men; they're long-tailed rats.

I might have told her that posing with fuchsia feathers and an American flag was not a smart move for a young woman in the middle of a plea bargain.

I might have told her that I felt sorry for her, that I reserved my most scathing commentary for the president, who never should have fooled with an impressionable intern. And for Ginsburg, who bollixed up her case and then allowed her to be exploited in Vanity Fair so he could pal around with celebrity photographer Herb Ritts. And for her father, who should be angry at Bill Clinton and William Ginsburg, not Kenneth Starr.

But I wimped out. "I don't know," I shrugged, lamely. She sashayed away, looking triumphant.

Hell hath no fury . . . oh, never mind.