Almost triumphantly, Barbara Bush answered the question of how she was faring after Monday's traumatic events.
"No comment -- let your eyes be your guide," said the wife of the vice president, raising her arm in a sweeping gesture. "We're in fantastically good shape. We're so grateful. We're very grateful."
And with that, she returned to greeting the women who crowded around her yesterday at the Four Seasons Hotel where the Wolf Trap Associates were about to start the second in a series of annual luncheon-lectures. Bush -- a longtime supporter of Wolf Trap Farm Park -- was among the 400 guests who came to hear soprano Beverly Sills, general director of the New York City Opera and a member of the Wolf Trap board, speak about the arts and opera. Bush is a friend of Kay Shouse, founder of Wolf Trap, who also was there.
"We're just so happy the Mrs. Bush could come," said Carolyn Long, wife of Sen. Russell Long (D-La.) and chair of the luncheon series, which benefits the opera program of the Wolf Trap Company. "I think that's a good symbol that business is back to normal."
Other wives of administration officials turned out for the event, Jane Weinberger, secretary of the Wolf Trap Foundation (the board of directors), said that the attempted assassination of President Reagan had not made her fear for her husband, Casper Weinberger, the secretary of Defense. "I think it's an isolated incident," she said of the shootings, "the work of a deranged man."
"This is our week of thanksgiving," said Ursula Meese, wife of Edwin Meese, counselor to the president, after the luncheon. "I heard Mr. Brady smoked a cigarette today," she said about the critically wounded press secretary.
Beverly Sills told the audience she had altered her remarks in light of Monday's shooting. "Forty-eight hours ago it was a whole different ball game," said Sills. "I had a speech prepared about budget and opera and fund-raising. I really can't make that speech today. This is really a day of celebration. The president is recovering, and so are the other three men. So I can't make a gloomy speech. I'm going to make a funny speech."
Sills told the story of her career, including many humorous anecdotes. She said that she began appearing on talk shows 15 years ago. "I thought I could tell people what opera singers were like," she said. "They weren't necessarily big fat ladies -- just chubby ones. We don't run around with spears. I thought this would encourage people to come to the opera.
"When I stopped singing last October, I thought: 'Where am I going to get a platform?' I got invited to join a lecture bureau. I thought that was pretty funny. My husband says I can talk for 20 minutes on anything. The man from the lecture bureau thought I was perfect."
Sills said she is "delighted" now that her singing career is over. "It ended exactly the way I planned it -- when people were saying, 'It's too soon,' not 'When is that woman going to leave?'"
Sills also entreated the audience to support the arts -- a timely plea in light of severe proposed cuts in the budgets of the national endowments for the arts and humanities. "It's terribly important you know what your role is," Sills said. "In addition to stockpiling weaponry, we should stockpile some beauty in our lives. Music and painting and dance must never be looked upon as frills and luxuries -- or we will be neglecting the one thing that has separated two-legged animals from four-legged animals."