I picked up People magazine last week and discovered Richard Gere on the cover. This is not what threw me. What gave me a shock was the headline: "The Sexiest Man Alive." The first thought that went through my head was, how many people would have bought the magazine if People had put someone on the cover with the title "The Sexiest Man Now Dead"? Would it sell as well?

After I got over my shock I said to myself, "Why Gere and not me?" So I called one of the editors at People and asked why Gere beat me out. "It was close," he said. "You were runner-up. You lost all your points when the judges saw pictures of you in your swim trunks."

"I want a recount," I said. "You can't elect the sexiest man alive and eliminate me because I'm not in moving pictures. If you want testimonials, I'll get you testimonials. Sophia Loren is crazy about me, and I am constantly being stalked by Sharon Stone."

He said, "That's nothing compared with Gere. Women send him flowers and notes and try to break into his hotel room."

"What do you think they do when I walk into a Starbucks? Tell me the truth, why did the editors choose him instead of me?"

"He's a better ballroom dancer."

"I didn't know we were being judged on our dancing."

"If you are going to make our Sexiest Man Alive cover you have to be judged on everything. For example, we pointed out in the article that Gere cannot be tamed, and that's what drives women wild."

"You never called to ask if I was wild and could not be tamed."

"We did, but they said you were taking a nap. Look, what makes Gere special is that if you have a problem, and your heart is aching, he listens to you. Also, you lost points when we discovered he was a better polo player than you are."

This, of course, got me upset. I said, rather foolishly, "Does People know that every time you see a woman cry, she cries for me?"

I really don't know how I could possibly be beaten out by Richard Gere. In the People article many women testified "what a marvelous date Gere was." (Read anything you want into that.)

But so what? I'm happy I was runner-up. If you are chosen as the Sexiest Man Alive, there are obligations. You have to entertain our troops abroad, appear on David Letterman's show and ride in a convertible down Broadway in a ticker-tape parade. Your cellular phone will be ringing all the time. Women will want to know where you're skiing.

Please don't think I am jealous of Gere. Even though People did not choose me as the sexiest man alive, I'm still only a heartbeat away.