Once upon a time there was a young woman living in this town who kissed a Republican. She had known he was a Republican before she kissed him, but it wasn't until after she had done so that she wondered if it was catching.

The thought bothered her so much that several weeks later she resolved to end the affair. She resolved to end it on Monday because that was a terrible day of the week, anyway, and also because she was to see him that day. Early Monday morning she arrived at the office and began practicing her eloquent parting speech. A messenger interrupted her soliloquy with a dozen yellow roses, accompanied by a fond note from the Republican.

By return mail, she sent back the roses. "From one blooming idiot to another," went her note.

Even if women had no other problems in this town, they would still be stuck with the alarming and chronic flaws of the men here. What it amounts to is this: Some of them call themselves Democrats, while the rest boast they are Republicans. In no other town are men so quick to tell you their problems.

Prior to the arrival of a certain Southern element it had always been possible to distinguish in Republican by his clothes, which can best be described as a complete negation of everything enticing about the human body. Now that the Southerners have taken over, it is getting difficult to decide whether they are simply Democrats with a rotten wardrobe, or Republicans with a rotten accent.

As if that weren't enough, this confusion has been abetted recently by a sudden and rather perplexing reversal of attitudes. Once ferocious Republicans are growing touchingly humble and almost bearable in captivity. While the mildest of Democrats lately has taken to bellowing orders from the throne.

Since, as well all know, neither element ever dares leave this town, even - and especially - when his party is forced from power. Since, as we also all know, the longer out-of-power they are, the more leisure time they have to inflict themselves on the rest of us socially. And since - finally - the more in-power they are, the more opportunities they have to make utter fools of themselves in public, it is probably appropriate to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about both species.

How can an honest woman tell the difference between a Republican and a Democrat?

The easiest and most effective method is known as the WLT - or Woman Lithmus Test.

When referring to someone of the female persuasion, all northern urban Democrats will use the word "woman" with heavy emphasis on both syllables as if they were engraved on their hearts in italics. Five years ago, of course, they all unhesitatingly came out with the word "chick," for which they have been doing nervous and embarrassing penance ever since. "Chick" is only in use among Western Democrats who don't know any better.

All Southern Democrats and Midwestern Republicans automatically refer to any woman under the age of 80 as a "gal." Over 80, she becomes an "old gal." So the way to tell a Midwestern Republican from a Southern Democrat is by the word "Miss." All Southern Democrats were brought up by some faithful and loving retainer who was not necessarily their mother, and who is referred to, to this day as "Miss" - followed by her Christian name. This is the only woman they have ever respected, possibly because she was the only woman who could ever bring herself to love them. And - rest assured - you will never measure up to her.

Can a woman be seen socially with a Republican and still survive? And would you want your sister to marry one?

Yes, you can, very, very occasionally, be seen socially with a Republican, even during a Democratic administration - provided you stay away from such subjects as Presidential Pardons and How To Get One.

Always remember that Republicans at this point, are much like the old, faithful family dog: generally pleasant and well-behaved - until provoked, at which time they bare their toothless gums, growl a lot and make terrible public scenes. No one, of course, would have the heart to shoot the old, faithful family dog. But it is important to keep him on a tight leash, and avoid all undue excitement that might remind him of the good old days.

If you must see a Republican socially, take special care to be seen with the right sort. Which is to say one who does not make it his business to suggest - at least not in public - that Eleanor Roosevelt was a pinko subversive.

Whether your sister should marry a Republican depends, I'm afraid, entirely on your sister and her tastes. If she wants to spend the rest of her life in A-line skirts, sling-back pumps and Cincinnati, Ohio - by all means, let her go ahead with the wedding. Be sure, however, to remind her that all Republicans ultimately end up in Cincinnati, if they do not already come from there - in which ease they know better.

Should anyone in her right mind date a Democratic congressman?

No, of course not. NOt unless you want to spend your precious leisure hours examining the genial side of Tongsun Park or the nasty side of th energy bill. There is an infernal myth going around which claims that all Democratic congressmen are the sexual athletes in the Hill Olympics. This is a myth that has been started by Democratic congressmen, promulgated by Democratic congressman. And believed only by Democratic congressmen.

Is a Republican congressman better?

Not really. Just rarer.

How can a woman be assured of receiving flowers and candy?

Date a Republican. All Republicans especially Republican bureaucrats, are inveterate flower-seders and candy-buyers, which is certainly a triumphant plus on their side.

The reason a Republican sends flowers is because he doesn't want you to think he's dull just because he's a Republican. This works. For a time.

In fact almost all gifts a woman is likely to receive will come from Republicans. On the other hand, I know

Date a Republican. All Republicans a woman who received "Friday, the Rabbi Slept Late," just because the Republican found out she was Jewish. Dating a Jewish lady is about as close as most Republicans can come to exotic.

A Northern Democrat's idea of a great gift is to send you an autographed copy of the book he wrote on military expenditures for fiscal year 1967. Or to offer you a bottle of wine from his home district in New Jersey. Southern Democrats give Billy Beer.

What if a woman wants a fabulously expensive gift?

Move to Korea.

So which is better? To date a Republican or a Democrat?

For short-term relationships, there's no doubt - a Republican is better. Republicn date the way they vote: in a hopelessly old-fashioned manner, which can be very gratifying, if you don't think about it a lot.

They shower you with compliments. They get jealous. They fall desperately in love with contemptible ease. They think you are enchantingly domestic if you don't walk, wonderfully independent if you do. Republicans will not holler at you if your work keeps you late for an outing - not even an outing with them. They think it extraordinarily brave of you to have gone out to work at all in the cold cruel world of business. They know all about the cold cruel world of business. They invented it.

For this reason, they are the last of the "there-therers." (As in "There, there. . . I'm sure your boss didn't mean it the way it sounded. . . ") There-there, I am informed, is a very sexist way of dealing with a troubled woman. It is also very pleasant.

But for longer relationships, a Democrat is vastly superior. First off, you can talk to him, which is always comforting in any relationship, and which is strictly impossible with your average Republican, with whom all political conversations automatically turn into fierce battles.

More significantly, though, there are more Democrats than Republicans from which to choose. Statistically, therefore, it is more probable to end up with an acceptable Democrat.

On the other hand, Republicans as a whole, are a sexier lot. This is obviously impossible to prove definitively. But as men have known for ages, people with whom you cannot talk intelligently or take home to your mother are often more appealing than respectable conversationalists. On a short-term basis, only, of course.

Democrats may be considered the better long-distance runners - but only if you remember that they do NOT date the way they vote. Largescale spending is only for the federal budget - not theirs. Equals rights for women does not apply to you.

What if a woman is weeking an independent - or at least someone who can talk agreebly, intelligently on art, theater, life. . . anything other than politics?

Move to Luxembourg.