I first (and last previously) dined at the then-new Rive Gauche during the late 1950s. I can place the period, because I was on the outer periphery of Arthur Godfrey's staff at the time, writing speeches and other things about airpower, aerospace, and such matters about which I knew little but learned a lot. I necessarily dealt often with aircraft company lobbyists and Washington representatives.

The company and individual names have long since escaped me, but one evening a considerable group of us assembled for a boisterous time on the company's (which was to say the taxpayer's) tab. We began by having far too many martinis at a posh watering place (I think it was the Carleton).

At about 10:30 our host, who wore a double knit suit of synthetic assisted wool and a hand-painted tie, announced we all were going to pile into cabs and go for a deal dinner, at the Rive Gauche in Georgetown. We were herded into the almost empty restaurant and our host, ignoring the protests of the maitre d', shoved several tables together to make a long one.

We were placed in our chairs, much as horses are persuaded into the starting gate at a racetrack, and menus were handed around. I had read as far as a magnificent sounding pate when double knit's voice boomed out. "GARSSON! Take away those menus! I'll order for everybody. We order for everybody. We all want steaks, WELL DONE."

My heart (and maybe my face) fell. As the menu flew from my hand, I murmured to the waiter, "Could I have a rare steak and some bearnaise sauce?"

"certainment ," he said.

Our host was at the far end of the long table from me, and the gsteaks arrived, mine with a small bowl of fragrant bearnaise on the side. I laid open the juicy slab of meat with several quick slashes and spread sauce on it.

My host peered the length of the table. His voice boomed out again silencing everybody. "Hey fellas, lookit Cochran. He's puttin' MAYONNAISE on RAW MEAT!"

I was younger then, and inclined to take such things pretty hard. The stead was great, though.