Sometimes the-pain is hers. Sometimes the pain is his. Sometimes there isn't any pain, but that's comedy, not romance.

The wonder of it all, of course, is that we continue to go on with it, even in this town which thinks little of lightweights and lunacies that can't be legislated. Administrations change, races are lost, but it's still the same old story and here are a few of them. Changes have been made in the names and identifying details of the participants .

I said, "They want me to write a Valentine."

She said, "Maybe you'll write about us?"

We met three years ago at a sparerib party on Capitol Hill, nothing very chic or trendy, just a night of good eating. The ribs had come up on an airplane that afternoon from Fishers Barbecue in Little Rock. The courier, who had them in tin foil in his suitcase, was an aide to Sen. Dale his suitcase, was an aide to Sen. Dale Bumpers. The partygiver was the Washington correspondent for the Arkansas Gazette. There were maybe 12 rib-crazed fools present. Willie Nelson was on the stereo.

She says I started flirting with her from across the room. I say she came over and started making time with me. Which is probably the way it was, since devouring ribs was uppermost in my mind. I do specifically recall two things: We got talking about Alaska, a place both of us aimed to go someday. And I had rib sauce, red and greasy, all over myself, including a Rorschach splotch on my new khakis. I felt like Woody Allen.

It all worked out, though: Last summer we went to Alaska. And now we're getting married in 24 days. Maybe we'll go to Fisher's for a honeymoon. CAPTION: Illustration, "William, do you have the courage to love?", Drawing by Koren, Copyright (c) 1977, The New Yorker Magazine Inc.