Last New Year's Washington socialite Page Lee Hufty made a New Year's resolution. "I decided that I wasn't going to any parties where there was press." So she pretty much didn't. She kept a low profile. She painted.
And then last night Hufty threw a party and invited the press herself. Along with about half of Washington - all of whom, it seemed, showed up at the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind for an exhibition of Hufty's watercolor paintings and the dedication of the Frances and Page Hufty Service Center (named after her parents) in that building.
And although many of the guests were simply loathe to cross the picket lines outside (the Lighthouse is non-union, the picketers weren't), the did in order to sip champagne and gaze at the 40 paintings, mostly landscapes and seacapes, and two lithographs hanging in the brightly lit dining room turned art gallery.
You could, in fact, even buy one, as did Hufty's buddy lawyer Steve Martindale, who, after his initial attraction to a $700 number, finally decided on a $350 winter scene. "I have to buy one," said Martindale, "otherwise Page would kill me."
Proceeds from the paintings, which were priced by an art dealer, said Hufty, would go to her and then be donated back to the Lighthouse.
For her part Hufty was giggly - giddy really - as she whirled around the room in her fuschia Unraro, borrowed riht off the rack from the designer himself this week when he was in town.
In between greeting guests, Hufty talked about what it was like to be, in the words of Rep. Newton Steers (R-Md.), "Washington's No. 1 social celebrity next to Elizabeth Warner." (Steers also reminded Mieke Tunney that seven years ago he had danced with her at the Sheraton Carleton but Mieke didn't seem to recall.
According to Hufty, she is a "great believer in keeping an idea of where one is at.
Even though as everyone who has so much as lifted a canape in this town knows. "You can sometimes get involved in the scene - a certain swing - and you're out every night and suddenly a year has gone by and there you are.
"But even then, even when it seemed I was out all the time, I was spending four or five hours a day painting. I take it very seriously, but what most society reporters never thought to ask was what I was doing all day before 7 when I would throw in my electric rollers and go out."
And when she did go out it was often on the arm of OAS Secretary-General Alejandro Orfila, John Warner or - so unsubstantial rumor had it several years ago - on the arm of Sen. Edward Kennedy, even though last might Hufty said that rumor was "distorted."
"Yes, that whole thing was detrimental to me. Teddy is a family friend. And those rumors were very tough on a friendship."
Among those on hand was Hufty's pal. Joquine Lachman, wife, of Revlon cosmetics tycoon Charles Lachman, who although she said she had had no problem getting in from Acapulco for the opening, was having considerably more trouble trying to arrange a New York rendezvous with the Ford Theater's Frankie Hewitt.
"Darling, I'm afraid the 7th is impossible. We won't be in New York. We're invited by the King of Morocco for dinner that night."