YOUR STATUS in Washington is no longer based on your title in government, nor how much entertaining you do, not even if you come from Georgia.
You are now judged strictly on real estate.
I attended a party recently and my hostess was all aglow. "I want you to meet the most divine couple," she said. "These are the Schmertzes."
The name didn't ring a bell. "They bought a house in Georgetown in 1965 for $14,000 and it is now worth $350,000," she explained.
I got excited, "Forgive me," I apologized, "I didn't know you were those Schmertzes. I've been reading about you in the real estate pages. Didn't you get a mortgage for 4 1/2 percent?"
"It was actually 4 3/4," Schmertz said modestly. "You know how real estate reporters tend to exaggerate."
Everyone gathered around the couple, while Sen. Teddy Kennedy stood in a corner all by himself. I looked around the room and could not believe my eyes. Coming in the door was Ziggy Wintermelon.
I went over to my hostess. "Marion, how did you ever get Ziggy Wintermelon, the condominium king, to come to your party?"
She grinned mysteriously. "I told him Sam Freed might be here tonight. Wintermelon has been dying to meet him ever since Sam sold his mobile home in Potomac for $750,000."
"Is Freed coming?" I asked.
"He's already here, darling. He's talking to that man with the glasses and frizzy hair over there, I forget his name."
"That's Henry Kissinger," I told her.
"It's funny I don't remember inviting Kissinger. He really doesn't fit in with these people," she said.
"You certainly turned out the stars," I told her. "Isn't that Vic Orsini who just bought a million-dollar townhouse in the Kalorama section of Washington?"
"Yes, he closed on Friday. I believe he told me he's paying 12 percent for a 25-year mortgage which the bank insists it wants to renegotiate every five years. Vic's not too bright, but he's fun to have around."
"Why isn't anyone talking to Vice President Mondale and his wife?"
"They get free housing at the Naval Observatory. What could you talk to them about?"
MARION," I said, "is it true the Stauntons sold their house in Alexandria for what they paid for it five years ago?"
"I'm afraid so. They seemed like such a nice couple, I don't know what got into them. Most people have dropped them, but I still say hello to her when I see her at bloomingdale's."
Marion surveyed the room. Suddenly I saw her eyes stop. "I told Chief Justice Burger not to bug Charley Smith about buying a house in Mount Vernon," she said. "Warren knows perfectly well Charley can't discuss his projects while they're still being developed."
"Maybe Burger forgot," I said.
Marion took out her guest list. "Perhaps you can help me with the seating protocol. I have three Supreme Court justices, the vice president of the United States, six senators and Carey Winston, the mortgage banker. Should I put Carey on my left or my right?"