I WAS glad to discover last weekend that Washington isn't the only place in the United States where people are all screwed up. Even a town as affluent and peaceful as East Hampton has terrible problems. We were house guests of the Stones, and they asked us which of our dear friends in East Hampton we would like to see.
"How about the Grabowskis and the Peregrines?" I suggested.
"We can't have the Grabowskis with the Peregrines," Stone said. "It seems two years ago Grabowski borrowed Peregrine's barbecue spit and returned it the next day with the handle missing. Grabowski didn't mention it, much less offer to pay for a new handle, and so Peregrine hasn't splken to him since."
"Well, what about the Cummerbunds?"
"We're not speaking to the Cummerbunds," Stone said curtly.
"I thought you were best friends."
"We were until I played tennis with Tom Cummerbund last weekend and he called a foot fault on me. You don't call foot faults on your friends. I've never called a foot fault on Tom in my life, and believe you me he foot faults all the time. He can't serve without having both feet in the court."
"Let's forget Cummerbund," I said. "I'd love to see the Wackenbushes."
"You can see him but not her," Stone said.
"Why can't I see her?"
"She ran away to Newport with a gardener."
"Was Wackenbush sore?" I asked.
"Not as sore as Henry and Lucy Trilby. You see, it was their gardener. They're not talking to Wackenbush because they feel if he had paid more attention to his wife, the Trilbys' rhododendrons would still be alive."
"So much for the Wackenbushes," I said. "You know who we'd love to have dinner with -- the Coffinbacks."
"You can have dinner with them," Stone said, "but we won't."
"But we all grew up with the Coffinbacks," I said.
"That's exactly the point. Two weeks ago we gave a dinner party for Ann Miller, the dancer, and we invited them. Then last weekend, they gave a dinner party for Tony Martin and you know what they did? They asked us to come in for coffee afterward."
"Boy, this East Hampton is full of intrigue," I said. "I think it would be easier if you could tell me who we can see."
Stone thought for a while. "There's the Pattersons. We like thme very much, and I know you do, too."
"Let's invite the Pattersons then," I said.
"They're not here," Stone said. "They rented their house for July and went to England. What about the Profiterolles?"
"I don't know the Profiterolles," I said, "but we'll see them anyway."
"Nah," said Stone. "They'd bore you to death."
"I don't see how you people make it through the summer," I said.
"It's not easy," Stone admitted. "There are a lot of people out here we'd love for you to meet, but we can't stand their house guests. And there are a lot of house guests we'd love to see, but we can't stand the people they're staying with."
"Why don't we just go to a Howard Johnson's for dinner and forget about it?"
"No way!" Stone said. "The last time I was there I had a fight with the manager, and I told him I'd never come back."
"I guess that just about does it," I said.
"Wait a minute. I just remembered, there's the Rucksacks," Stone said.
"You mean you know one couple in East Hampton that nobody is mad at?"
"They just moved out here last week, and no one has had a chance to get sore at them yet."