Like his most well-known client, hairdresser Robin Weir had a problem in his pantry.
For Nancy Reagan it was a shortage of china; for Weir, Tupperware. In fact, he didn't own any of those familiar items known as the Limoges of plastic. So the First Lady's hairdresser (actually, he's the regular in-between monthly visits by Julius from California and occasional trips by M. Marc from New York) invited the gang over for a Tupperware party. If nothing else, he'd get his "hostess" gift.
He used the excuse of the 50-plus birthday of his partner, Emery (Ted) Tidd -- "that reminded me of the 1950s" -- and invited his pals and his clients, except for Mrs. Reagan, whom he knew would be out of town, to his basement shop for "the warmth and hospitality of a Tupperware party. Dress: bouffant."
The invitation read: "Miss Grace will show her new fall line of 'plastiques' in all the best new shades. Later there might be singing along with Patti and Dinah . . . This day is sure to be a collector's item . . . like Tupperware. And after all, isn't that what birthdays are all about?"
Sunday afternoon Weir tacked helium balloons to the sandwich board outside his shop, filled the black hair-washing sinks with ice and bottles of champagne and orange juice, and set out dips, cubed cheese stuck into grapefruit halves, pretzels and jellybeans -- in Tupperware trays, of course. The door to the private room used by Julius was left slightly ajar so guests could see autographed photos from the first lady, Mary Benny, Dinah Shore and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Weir carefully lined 100 cupcakes with foot-long candles along the counters. (Birthday boy Tidd later blew out the candles with a hair dryer.)
Weir wore a sweat shirt marked Blankner Elementary School, which he once attended, and a greased-back duck-tail hairstyle. "My father never let us have our hair this way," he said.
In high school, Weir spent afternoons working in the display department of Tupperware headquarters in Kissimmee, Fla., so he was pretty familiar with some of the items demonstrated by Grace Jankowski of Forrestville, Md. Jankowski wore a circle skirt and sweater with a rhinestone pin that read "1500", her dollar sales goal in Tupperware for the week. She had passed that goal even before the party began.
While the crowd was still small, Jankowski demonstrated the Tupperware toys -- containers, trays, pitchers and the like. "Use the bottom of the parfait dish as a candle holder and no one will know you have a Tupperware bottom," Jankowski said innocently as the crowd howled.
She had another tip: "I don't drink but my husband does. And for bring-your-own parties like on New Year's, he fills the Tupperware rolling pin with liquor."
Jankowski said she once spotted Nancy Reagan carrying jellybeans in a Tupperware jar to President Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, in the hospital.
Both Nancy Reagan's manicurist, Jeannette Copete, and the president's manicurist, JoAnne Casperson, were at the party.
Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) came to the party directly from the airport with his wife, Elizabeth, who is a special assistant to the president and has had her hair done by Weir for the last 12 years.
Dole, unlike Treasury Secretary Donald Regan or White House Chief of Staff James Baker, who have their nails done after the president is finished with his manicure said, "I've only had a manicure once. I wouldn't know quite what to do.
"Besides, it is not quite the right pose for a Republican -- to have his hand out."