"Oh, Dr. Friedman, would you sign my book? . . ."

"Oh, Dr. Friedman, you remember we met 10 . . . 15 . . . a jillion years ago. . ."

"Oh Dr. Friedman I just wanted to shake your . . ."

"You remember Dr. and Mrs. Friedman. . ."

Diminutive Milton Friedman, the premier conservative economist, Nobel laureate, darling of the free market-tight budget set, and his wife, Rose, were holding court at the head of an impromptu receiving line so formidable that Fred Hartley (chairman of Union Oil and leading member of the Ronald Reagan brain trust) shrugged his shoulders, grinned and gave up.

So did Ed and Ursula Meese. Meese will be President Reagan's counselor.

It was the seventh inaugural event of the day for the Meeses, several of which -- including this one -- had been in their honor.

"One of them was a sit-down," said Ursula Meese, "and that slowed us down a little."

This one was honoring the Friedmans as well. It was given by the National Tax Limitation Committee.

There were literally dozens of congressmen, virtually all Republicans, headed by Rep. Barber Conable (R-N.Y.), one of the hosts, and three or four hundred other guests piled into the committee's L Street offices, where several bars and lavish buffets were set up with fresh California strawberries, fresh pineapple, raw shrimp, ham, liver pate and assorted raw vegetables.

Ursula Meese, sipping a drink gratefully, said yes, she thought it was fine that the hostage crisis was drawing to a close."It's nice for the Carters to go out that way . . . and for us to come in. . ."