Getting a private education in New York City is getting tougher. A recent series of e-mails from analyst Jack Grubman, who recommends what stocks to buy and what ones to sell, revealed that he got his recommendations mixed up with trying to get his kids into the right preschool.

This may have been done by a lot of desperate Wall Street sharpshooters. I was just given the e-mails of stock market analyst Harry Thumbscrew, of Blarney and Moore Blarney, to Steven Bigpockets, the president of Gotcha National Bank.

To: Steven Bigpockets

From: Harry Thumbscrew

I'm going to put a sell order on Wrong Number Telephone Co.

To: Harry Thumbscrew

From: Steven Bigpockets

Urgent. Don't put a sell on Wrong Number. We are trying to get their Christmas savings account. Put a "buy" on it.

To: Steven Bigpockets

From: Harry Thumbscrew

I don't have time. Have to go for an interview at the Barbie Pre-Nursery School for Upper-Class Families.

To: Harry Thumbscrew

From: Bigpockets

I'll get your kid into the kindergarten if you put a "buy" on Wrong Number and a "sell" on White Teeth Yellow Books. Their president blackballed me from the Cranberry Country Club. If it weren't for him, I could eat in the members' dining room.

To: Bigpockets

From: Thumbscrew

Will do what you wish. Any news on the Barbie School?

To: Thumbscrew

From: Bigpockets

I've put calls into the members of the board. In exchange for your Sonny being admitted, I promised them $1 million to build a spa for the children.

To: Bigpockets

From: Thumbscrew

Great idea. It will be the only kindergarten in New York City with a spa.

One week later.

To: Harry Thumbscrew

From: Steven Bigpockets

Having difficulty with Sonny's application. There seems to be a problem with teddy-bear hugging.

To: Bigpockets

From: Thumbscrew

Tell them Sonny will be taking remedial teddy-bear hugging and should be able to pass it by opening day. Steve, you don't know what it means for Sonny to get into the right pre-nursery school. It will affect his life forever. If he doesn't get in and has to go to the public pre-nursery school, he will have to share his Play-Doh with the lower-class kids.

He would have to finger-paint without supervision, and in the first grade he'd start stealing. Without private guidance in high school he would join a gang and steal tires after school.

From there, because I failed to get him into Barbie, Sonny would wind up either in crime or on Wall Street.

To: Harry

From: Steve

This is what I want you to do today. Put a buy on WorldCom and Imclone and hold Enron. Recommend our own stock because in two weeks we're going to come out with a double-digit loss.

To: Bigpockets

From: Thumbscrew

What about Sonny?

To: Harry

From: Steve

He's on the waiting list. There are only 400 kids ahead of him.

(c)2002 Tribune Media Services