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 .

He was blase about everything, a bit of a cynic. He smirked when you said something funny and he cocked his head and stared when you said something silly.

He makes me uncomfortable, some friends said, squirming at the recollection of social functions with him. But she disagreed. Something about him tugged the right chord. His deadpan remarks made her giggle.

In a town where most of her peers were sorting mail for some congressman or lobbying for public interest groups at a salary hovering near poverty level, he was a government lawyer with high security clearance.

He certainly dressed the part -- pinstriped suits, wire-rimmed glasses. Good, she thought. Not a down parka in sight. No hiking boots. He liked quiet dinners, movies, TV, and he worked all day and all night.

You too? she practically exclaimed to him. She worked obsessively at her job as a writer. I left a dinner party one Saturday night to go back to work until 6 the next morning, she once confided to him. He worked one Saturday night until 3 a.m., left, and then went back at 8 the next morning, he confided back. They were two of a kind.

He called her at work to invite her to the movies and pizza at Macchiavelli's on Capitol Hill.

She arrived late (because of work) and he was even later (because of work.) But they expected it of each other.

They sat and ate pizza and drank wine brought cheerfully by waiters who must have known they were happy and liked each other. They played songs on the jukebox and talked.

He wanted to take disco dance lessons, he said between bites of pizza. She laughed hysterically. You must be kidding, she said No, he was serious, it would be fun, he insisted. When would we have time, she asked incredulously. He insisted. Well, I don't know, she said. Good, he said, you get the details.

She called him back a week later. She asked if he was still interested in disco lessons. I don't think so, he said, Congress is starting up again and I've really got a lot of work... why, did you find a place? Well, yes, she said, the Foxtrappe has lessons on Monday night but... I understand you've got a lot of work.

He said he would call her later, but he never did. At first she would stay a little later at work than she needed to, thinking he might call late in the day. Now she no longer expects the call. But sometimes she wonders if she might still get a call one hot week in july (right after Congress begins summer recess), asking if she wants to take disco dance lessons.. CAPTION: Illustration, "William, do you have the courage to love?" Drawing by Koren, Copyright (c) 1977. The New Yorker magazine Inc.