I believe I should have an opportunity to defend myself against the insidious charges that I behaved in a gluttonous manner, and engaged in a disgusting display of excess eating and drinking during the recent holiday season. There are two sides to every Christmas and New Year's story.

First, I would like to deal with the fruit cake. It's true I ate the whole damn thing in three days, but there was a perfectly valid reason for it. Contrary to reports, I did not order the fruit order, nor did I pay for it. It was sent to me by an old college friend named Jerry Altshuler, whom I haven't seen in years. Why Altshuler sent me the fruit cake is something you'll have to ask him.

He lives in Oklahoma City, so I have to assume we struck it rich in either oil or gas - or fruit cakes. In any case I happened to be at home when it arrived and I signed for it. My laywer, Ed Bennett Williams, advised me that the person who signs for a fruit at Christmas time has to eat it. So I did, and therefore everyone is going around saying that I made a pig of myself.

Now about the seven cups of eggnog I drank at the neighbor's house across the streeton Christmas Eve. I won't deny I did drink them, as witnesses have testified. But the fact is that was all they were serving, and after chomping on fruit cake a guy can get pretty thirsty.

"I'll skip Christmas dinner because I did'nt eat any more or less turkey and stuffing than my son-in-law. The big hullabaloo came at dessert time when my daughter surprised us all with a bouche Noel, which happens to be a log of cake filled with whipped cream and topped with coffee, or chocolate cream. My wife had a made pumpkin pie. There I was, caught between the bouche Noel and the pumpkin pie. I did what any decent person would do, and had a piece of each. And for this I am charged with gluttony?

All right. We've now come to the poppycock on the evening after Christmas. If you recall that was the day of the playoff games. My wife had bought the poppycock (popcorn covered with molasses and stuck against walnuts) for my guests to eat while we watched the Los Angeles-Minnesota game.

The only trouble was no guests showed up. Geyelin had to go to Philadelphia to visit his relatives, Califano canceled out at the last moment so he could revise his welfare reform bill once again, and Valenti's wife made him go caroling with the children.

So the poppycock was just sitting there in the can. I didn't touch it until the first half ended. Well by then one poppycock led to another, and before I knew it the game was over and the can was empty. But it was my wife's fault. She had no business putting the poppycock on the table when she knew I'd be sitting in the living room all alone.

I know what you're going to bring up next - the Kron chocolate covered strawberries from Neiman Marcus. I swear I didn't know they were loaded. Someone placed them out on the piano right on the path to the kitchen where we keep the beer. It was a case of pure entrapment. The person who put them there is just as guilty as I am, but the media hasn't written a word about him? her? it?

I won't dignify the charges concerning the disappearance of the pistachio ice cream from the refrigerator. It's true I was in the kitchen that evening at midnight when it was last seen in the freezer. But someone else followed me in there after I went upstairs. I know this because the next morning all the pumpkin pie was gone, and I had left one slice in the pie plate.

As for drinking, I'll admit I lost my moral compass. First there was the Gil Hahn party when he broke out four bottles of Chateau Latour 1965. Then the Quinn party to celebrate Christmas past, and the Bellows open house party to celebrate Christmas future, followed by the Elfin annual New Year's Eve party where someone tried to take my gusto away from me.

It's all rather hazy, but the point is not one action I took in terms of eating or drinking during the holidays was premeditated. They were all crimes of passion. And I don't see why I should take the rap from my doctor just because I didn't want to spoil, what many people consider, the happiest time of the year.