"I don't know why I'm here, I bump into them all the time at the market," said one guest at the crowded, West Coast reception.
But not any more, she conceded. Ronald and Nancy Reagan aren't doing their own marketing these days nor are they stopping for informal chats with neighbors.
If you want to catch a glimpse of the Reagans, you have to make the most of the occasional opportunities, and about 500 of Los Angeles' rich and powerful who usually don't stand around waiting for anything decided Monday night it was worth spending more than an hour for one such glimpse.
Even in America's star-studded tinsel town, a president-elect draws standing-room-only crowds. So it was at the Times Mirror Co. complex in downtown Los Angeles.
"They sent out 500 invitations and 500 people came," remarked Armand Hammer, the head of Occidental Petroleum.
Mayor Tom Bradley flew back early from the League of Cities meeting in Atlanta to attend the reception which was given in Reagan's honor jointly by the Times Mirror Co., which publishes the Los Angeles Time, and the Amazing Blue Ribbon.
Although the Amazing Blue Ribbon sounds like a trapeze act or rock band, it is a volunteer group that each year raises more than $1 million for the Performing Arts Council of Los Angeles.
Bradley noted that he was far from the only Democrat in the room. "Reagan's got broad gauge support as he moves into his term of office," the mayor said.
"Everyone wants to meet President-elect Reagan," said Joy Picus, a Democratic member of the Los Angeles City Council.
Blue Ribbon members, who were the only people invited, are for the most part richer than they are famous. One star, Charlton Heston, stopped by on his way to play Sherlock Holmes in "Crucifer of Blood," but it was a party more for the quietly wealthy than the glitteringly celebrated.
The good feeling toward Reagan took on a small overlay of bad feeling caused by standing too long in a crowded room as the reception entered its second hour. There were no chairs, but some guests sought relief perching on the edge of a platform built for the television cameras.
Others simply had another drink. "It's Reagan's fault. He's getting us intoxicated," said one guest leaving the bar with a refill.
"I bet you thought we'd never start this program," Otis Chandler, vice chairman of the Times Mirror board and editor-in-chief of the Times, said when he finally stepped to the microphone about 90 minutes after most of the guests had arrived.
Chandler recalled that his newspaper twice endorsed Reagan for governor and seemed solidly on the president-elect's side as he asked the crowd to join him in an ovation for "President-elect Ronald Reagan and his lovely wife Nancy."
And they did.
"You've honored us greatly," Reagan said. "Our people do hunger for a boldly optimistic and prosperous America. Prosperity is created by businessmen and businesswomen. Politicians just take credit for it."
Reagan told a couple of jokes and stepped down from the podium to shake hands with guests who pressed against a rope that separated them from the Reagans. Many were old friends whom the Reagans recognized and chatted with briefly.
"I think it's going to be a very up time for America," said Marcia Israel, founder of 63 boutiques.
"And for the world, too," her husband Larry, a real estate developer, added.
Hammer, who has long had a special relationship with the Soviet leadership, predicted that U.S.-Soviet relations will become excellent. "You remember that Nixon got along better with Brezhnev than anyone else," Hammer said, forecasting that Reagan will also have a rapport with the Soviet leader.
Michael Newton, president of the Los Angeles Performing Arts Council, and others concerned with federal support for the arts, spent part of the evening discussing how the arts will fare under Reagan.
"I don't view this with any alarm," Newton said. "Some people fear that federal support will be cut back, but these fears can be dissolved."
Not everyone was concerned with money or the arts. One aspiring politician accosted Hammer with the news that he was about to run for city attorney and would appreciate the oil millionaire's support.
The Reagans worked their way to the end of the hand-shaking line and exited with Dorothy Chandler, chairman of the Performing Arts Council Board and honorary chairman of the Amazing Blue Ribbon; her son, Otis, and 20 others selected to attend a private dinner in another room.