Cathy Douglas considered the gas lines and resolved the problem philosophically. "Let's hope," she said, "it'll bring back reading."

Marlene Malek, on the far side of the Jockey Club, told other guests she had found a gas station that doles the stuff out by appointment, "though I'm not really sure it's legal."

And wine wholesaler Chester Carter pointed out with concern that the gas scarcity is cutting down on customers in restaurants, bars and liquor stores.

The personal toll of the gas crisis was very much in the conversation last night as California lawyer John J. Quinn and his wife Joan hosted a dinner for Grant Mudford, whose exhibition of photographs was previewed at the Hirshhorn Museum earlier in the evening. In California, insisted Quinn, the odd-even sales had almost cured the long gas lines there.

The gas shortage was never a problem for Mudford, who took many of the pictures on a cross-country car trip with designer Zandra Rhodes, also at the party last night.

Former Nixon aide Frederick Malek, now with the Marriott Corporation, was one of the few at the dinner party whose business had gained from the current gas situation. Marriott hotels carter mostly to business people who travel by plane, he explained. And his company's airline catering business had been boosted by the increased use of air travel in place of cars.

Jack Quinn, a past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Assoication, was using the occasion to mark the merger of his West Coast firm with the Georgetown firm, Nathan & Mause. His wife was marking the event with her own Instamatic camera.

And what do you wear to a party where the girlfriend of the guest of honor has bright pink hair decorated with chopsticks and pins?

The choice was easy for photographer Mudford: a Rhodes-designed zig zag printed chiffon shirt with his jeans and Indian Belt. Joan Quinn, a faithful Zandra Rhodes wearer, had paired a Rhodes blouse with an antique skirt and Laura Ashley slip.

Douglas, wife of the former Supreme Court justice, who says she opts for suits mostly during the day, was in a slim blue printed silk. Her husband, she said, goes to his office daily, and has recently finished his autobiography, leaving him time to watch her practice law. "He is not where he wants, but is feeling better than he should be, all because of his strong will," she said. CAPTION: Picture 1, Zandra Rhodes and Grant Mudford; by Joe Heiberger - The Washington Post; Picture 2, Joan Quinn and Cathy Douglas; by the Joe Heiberger - The Washington Post