"M IND PUTTING THAT OUT?"

No, no, no. Absolutely wrong. To have the right effect, in light of what is about to happen, there's going to have to be more drama, and a sense of great insult.

"Pardon me, but the rest of us are trying to breathe."

Predictable, perhaps, but it might just work. It conveys the message that, ordinarily, of course, I wouldn't say anything, but honestly, this is a hot, sweaty, crowded locker room, and that is a cigar you're chomping on, and -- pal, as soon as you light up, you're going to hear it. Did I mention crowded?

Sometimes you don't get the chance to tell off the people who need it. Like last week at the Safeway in Adams-Morgan, when the lady with 17 items in the express line said to the clerk: "You mean I'm supposed to have the check approved first?"

At times like that, words begin to form in the brain and inch their way to the lips. "I believe you'll find the word 'chutzpah' on Page 256 of the current Webster's New World Dictionary." Alas, there was no chance to actually utter them this time, because the four of us in line glared her into submission. "Oh, never mind. I have the cash."

Yeah, well, just don't do it again.

But this time, Mr. Cigar at locker No. 581 of the 17th Street YMCA is going to get an earful.

The thought of those billows of blue-gray smoke mixing with the steam, sinking into the towels, sticking to everyone's shirt -- you can imagine our sense of rage. What a great group catharsis it will be when he lights that match and the entire body politic of the locker room turns its scorn on a single individual. A lawyer, probably. The moment he lights that match . . . it will be glorious.

So light it already.