My favorite Humpy: Didn't Gary Coleman (of Diff'rent Strokes fame) get in hot water last year for socking a fan? If so, what happened? By the way, I want to kiss you, kiss you, KISS YOU!!

Well, Susan, pucker up, baby! I've got the dirty lowdown on the entire Gary Coleman affair! And Susan, you know how sometimes I kind of... ohhh, for want of a better phrase... make stuff up? Well, the following story is absolutely and hilariously TRUE! Enjoy!

The State of California vs. Gary Coleman

Times have been tough for the diminutive former star of Diff'rent Strokes. Due to fickle tastes within the entertainment industry, the once-famous Gary "Wha'choo talkin' about, Willis?" Coleman is currently employed as a security guard. However, unlike some notable former child stars, Coleman has stayed on the straight-and-narrow--until that fateful day on July 30, 1998 when he met the plaintiff, busdriver Tracy Fields. Coleman was shopping for a bulletproof vest (!) at a uniform supply store when Ms. Fields approached him for an autograph.

This is where differing versions of the story emerge. After Gary gave Fields her autograph, she claims she politely requested that he "personalize it" by making it out to her son. But to her amazement, she asserts, the infuriated Coleman snatched the autograph away in a fit of post-stardom angst, ripped it up, and "said something about how he hated black people." Fields responded, "Your attitude is probably why you didn't succeed as an adult actor." [Ooooooooooh!--Hump] Apparently this remark touched a sore spot with Coleman (4'8", 86 lbs.), and without warning he "punched" Fields (5'6", 205 lbs.) in the eye, knocking her down, then pummeled her with a barrage of body shots. "He went off on me," Tracy shuddered. "I feared his rage."

However, on the stand, Coleman disagreed with Fields' story, claiming it was she who was rude to him. She demanded an autograph so loudly it sent a chill up his spine, he remarked, adding that after he signed it, she barked, "Ain't you gonna put something nice on it?" When he declined to do so, she called him "a rude bad-ass" and insulted his acting abilities. Coleman's feelings were so damaged by her high-decibel off-the-cuff review, he ripped up the autograph--and then the proverbial poop hit the non-proverbial fan.

"She said to me, 'Well, you're just a little punk-ass bitch!'" Coleman told the courtroom. "I told her she was really rude, to which she said, 'Well, fuck you! I'm not going to watch you on television anymore!' [Ooooooooh!--Hump] And I said, 'No, fuck YOU, lady!'" [Ooooooooh!!--Hump]

"She was getting scary," Coleman said, trembling. "There's this very large, buxom woman in my face.... Her breasts were practically hitting me in the head." [Haw! Haw! Haw!--Hump]

Coleman then confessed to hitting the woman, but only in self-defense, hoping to distract Fields long enough to make an escape. However, store cashier Mahogoney Speed [I think I saw that movie!--Hump] disputes Coleman's claim, asserting that he started the altercation.

Unfortunately for Coleman, the jury didn't see things his way. He received a 90-day suspended sentence, a $400 fine, and a $1,180 penalty assessment fee. He was also ordered by the court to take 52 anger management classes. Upon hearing the verdict, Mr. Gary Coleman, a once-sparkling celebrity who was ultimately undone by his own fame, blew his nose in disgust.

Thus ends another sordid tale of childhood stardom gone awry. What are we to learn from this, readers? Here are my thoughts: If we are the ones who lift these children up on a pedestal of fame, then is it not we who should care for them after their star has fallen? I suggest that once they reach adulthood, they should automatically be given roles on NYPD Blue. Hey! At least that way we'll get to see 'em NAKED!! "Wha'choo talkin' about, jury??" steve@thestranger.com