Say you're social climber.

This is just hypothetical of course.

It is the new fall season. The invitations start to pour in.

My, but you're popular

Embassies, political receptions, fund-raisers, book parties, charity balls, testimonial dinners.

Yes, yes, yes. You accept. Turn nothing down.

You're on the go. Every night out at a different one.

You're really on the circuit. Everyone sees you. They know you're making it or you wouldn't be invited.

And you are making it. Hobnobbing with the right ambassadors, seeing the right people in power. Senator this, Representative that, White House officials, Cabinet Secretaries.

Everything is just going along swimmingly. No problems.

And you know, as they all know, that Washington parties are not just for fun. You go to them because there's something in it for you. Politically or socially.

Then catastrophe strikes. Six invitations arrive for the same night. Thursday, Oct. 20.

For a mad, irrational moment you think you'll go to them all. Rent a limousine, that's it. Just run in and out. Make your presence known, let everyone know that you were invited, then rush on to the next.

Great idea.

But wait. This nees a stragegy session. This whole business is predicated on appearance. You could over do it. There is that terrible chance that you might appear it little bit desperate.

Suddenly you can hear them gossiping: Did you see poor old so-and-so racing around Washington like a headless chicken.

Oh God.It's too horrible. Too difficult. Maybe the best thing is to be out of town. No. That won't do. You've just got to face it and make the right decisions, take the responsibility for your own actions.

Just to make it easier, let's go through the invitations and list the options.

First let's look at the ones you have to pay for. That's always a major consideration.

There's the evening honoring Hubert Humphrey given by the Minnesota State Society. In the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel. It costs $50. Not too bad considering how much most of these things go. Featured guests are Theodore Bikel, Vincent Price, Mark Russell and somebody called Eddie Jones. Humphrey himself will not be there but will speak to the group by phoned and the International Ballroom seats 3,000.

Should you go? Here are some considerations.

Right away you know it will be a zoo. With 3,000 people nobody will even notice you.

Most of the evening will be spent sitting at a table with a bunch of people you've never met and eating banquet food. There will probably be no wine and there is, a hassle to get it. There probably will be lots of speeches, and maybe some fair entertainment. There will be scores of reporters and TV cameras with bright shinning lights and you know how they are. No respect.

On the plus side, probably every Member of Congress will be there and a lot of big shots to make some time with.On the other hand, they'll be surrounded by press, gladhanders and other social climbes and you probably won't get much chance at them.

It is for a good cause . . . but the last thing in the world you care about is good causes. Right? You are, as you have often said to yourself, your favorite charity. This is a tough one.

The second party, which also costs $50, is an Elizabethan Dinner Dance - black tie - for the benefit of the Washington Ballet. It is hosted by Anna Chehnault and ballet impresario George Balanchine. It's being held at the Corby Mansion on Chevy Chase Circle, which is one of the most spectacular houses in Washington. That's all you know.

So you haven't been to the ballet since you took you children to the Nuteracker five years ago. So. The 50 bucks is negligible. But who will show up? It's hard to tell. With Anna Chennault hosting there will surely be a lot of right-wingers, pro-Taiwan, Korea types. On the other hand, she goes with Tommy "The Cork" Corcoran who is an oldtime Democrat, so maybe he'll add his cronies to the list. And, of course, Blanchine may draw a lot of chic Georgetown people who are just interested in the arts. The whole Elizabethan gimmick is a waste of time, but it may draw some esteties. But who cares about esthetes? And there will probably be nobody from the Hill because they'll all be at the Humphrey dinner.

There is the possibility that it might be fun. But then, how could it be fun if there aren't any powerful people there? The plus is that you've never seen the inside of the Cordy house. And you'd have a genuine excuse to put on black tie. Often you wear evening clothes to cocktail parties so that people will think you have an important dinner to go to afterwards. Is it worth it? This one's not that hard.

The third party that costs money is also $50. Again amazingly cheap and half of these charges are tax deductible anyway. This one is An Evening in Morocco sponsored by ther Ambassador of Morocco and Mrs. Ali Bengelloun. It features the Premier Fur Collection of Yves St. Laurent presented by Saks Jandel and the Fall/Winter Collection of St. Laurent Rive Gauche and it benefits the Washington Opera. It's a black-tie champagne supperance at the embassy.

Right off the bat you know this one will be the most fun - not in the sense of how much successful climbing and pointmaking you can do, which is, of course, the ultimate fun, but because a lot of people who just want to have a good time will show up here rather than try to fight the crowds at the some of the other big dos.

You know the ambassador and his wife have just recently arrived. They were here during the Kennedy administration and had a reputation for giving fabulous, glamorous, exciting parties. But you've also heard that since they've returned, their parties have had a dej vu quality about them, lots of old Kennedy types and extensive press coverage.

You feel ambivalent about press coverage these days. You just love good publicity. Nothing like the good old days when you'd show up at a party, have your picture taken and he quoted as saying nice things about the hostess. But press coverage is dangerous these days. You never know what the're going to print.

The problem with this party is you've already been to what seems like 20 parties with fashion shows and you've bought your entire fall-winter wardrobe already. Not only that, how many top politicians and administration types would show up at something like this, which has a definitely frivolous air? They'll all be at the Humphrey dinner except for the Republicans, who'll be at the ballet thing.

On the free side is the party Bob Gray is giving with his colleagues from Hill and Knowlton, the public relations firm.

It's a wine and cheese at the National Press Club Ballroom and it celebrates Hill and Knowlton's 50th Anniversary and previews their new "Directory of Key Government Personnel."

On the plus side of this, since it's at the National Press Club there will probably be a lot of press. The good kind. Not covering the party but there as guests. It never hurts to make friends with the press. Still, you've heard the press club has gone down lately, maybe the top press won't come. Besides, since Hill and Knowlton is a PR firm, a lot of the good press is wary of being used.

But then, a lot of people going to the Humphrey thing could easily drop by this one on the way from Capitol Hill. It is, after all, only a cocktail party, so you could just zip in and zip out. Might be worth it.

The last two are embassy parties They can be boring - let's see.

There's the reception at the Danish embassy to celebrate the publication of three Kanish books in the United States. You don't know anything about the Danish ambassador. You're not even sure where the embassy is. You know that nobody in Washington who is anybody actually reads books. They don't have time. So it will be a dog of a party in terms of sucking up. You could find yourself there nto knowing a soul. And the three books are Contemporary Danish Poetry, Classical Danish Narratives and Entertainments and Posthumous Tales. Whew.

That leaves the curry dinner for the new Indian ambassador.

It's being given by some Indian you've never heard of at his house. The host says it's the ambassadors' social debut and swears that Sens. Roth, Javits and Stone, and Reps. Zablocki and Cederberg have accepted.

You've heard that line before. But you love curry. It's your favorite dish. And it is a free dinner. Also you've been following Indian politics avidly since Indira Gandhi got deposed and you're kind of fascinated by the whole situation there. Besides, India is such a pivotal country that you're sure some big-shot politicians will see that it's to their advantage to be there. Not only that, it will probably be the smallest party of the evening which would give you more time to work on Javits, Roth, Stone, etc.

On the minus side, it could turn out to be an excruciating bore and you'd be stuck all night eating popodums when you could be living it up at the Moroccans. it's not an easy decision.

But then, nobody ever said the life of a social climber was an easy one.

Aren't you glad this was hypothetical? CAPTION: Illustration, no caption, Illustration by [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] - The Washington Post