Yesterday it was buses, not limousines: The participants in the inaugural social drama had to get where they were going fast, and together. The family of George and Barbara Bush, 130 strong, required four buses. Some buses served lunch -- with one fleet providing chocolate-dipped, liqueurmarinated strawberries as dessert. At the John Sherman Coopers in Georgetown, over 100 guests on their way home from the day's festivities had choice seats on the balcony for the fireworks display that set off the night's celebrations. For the GOP, yesterday was prelude to an evening of balls. But for the Democrats -- including former vice president Mondale, who was home by midafternoon -- the postlude had already begun.
"It's a great honor to look like a great man," said the Ronald Reagan lookalike as he cradled a glass of champagne at Tramps/KIX country radio unofficial and underattended inaugural ball last night. This Ronald Reagan wasn't actually drinking, mind you; inside the familiar rugged Western looks, coastal tan and tuxedo, was security guard David Becker, keeping his own teetotaler faith. "Seems like I'm in a dream," he whispered, a reluctant Xerox who's been brought center stage by the Ron Smith Celebrity-Look-Alikes agency.
If this Ronald Reagan was a bit stiff and non-charismatic, the Nancy was terrific. A.k.a. beautician Joanne Johnson from Walnut Creek, Calif., this Nancy was to the manner born: greeting strangers with familiar gestures, the elegant, enduring smile subduing the constant camera flashes. "You grow up looking like somebody," Johnson said between pictures. "I've really been going through this since Mr. Reagan was governor."
Photo opportunism led to some strange scenes: Miss Maryland, Laurie Estep, sitting awkwardly on the lap of an uncomfortable "Ron," kissing him quickly while "Nancy" feigned anger; an obvously shy "Ron" being asked to make a toast and protesting, "I'm speechless" which the "Nancy" spiced with an "about time!"; the label on a bottle of beer being turned to face the cameras -- "Boy, will they love that over at Miller's!?
People came to have their pictures taken and even "Ron and Nancy" were taken aback when a Joe Di Maggio slipped in for a picture. He turned out to be Paul Warren, a Teamsters official who came in on a lark. Ron Smith went after him as soon as the flash of recognition had subsided. "I need a guy like you for a film I'm doing. . . " A moment later, "Nancy" gasped as Karen Tucker of Suitland strolled up looking like . . . Crystal Gayle. She got Tucker's phone number and as they parted said "Don't be surprised if you get a call, Crystal." By this time Di Maggio had disappeared and the Ron Smith, the Real McCoy, was darting anxiously through the crowd. "Where's the Joe Di Maggio guy? Have you seen the Joe Di Maggio guy?"