Perhaps Rep. Lynn Martin (R-Ill.) summed it up best when she described Ronald Reagan's second inaugural weekend:
"I mean, it's just like a second marriage," she said. "You can't have the 14 bridesmaids, and the flower girl, or spend zillions on the reception. It just looks dumb. How can it ever be like the first?"
Perhaps the radio weatherman summed it up second best yesterday: "You can hardly see in front of you with the wind and snow . . . cars are sliding down Connecticut Avenue."
From the start, they said this inauguration would be different, a Republican reunion instead of a king's coronation. Gleam without the ostentatious glitter. And they were right.
In numbers, the parties are nearly the same, but somehow the triumph of style and ideology that only comes with a new administration is gone.
Four years ago, Ronald Reagan's California took over this town, unabashedly embracing it as its own. They wore rubies and ate caviar at nearly 200 parties, displaying a conspicuous flamboyance that soon would be equated with insensitivity.
The wild extravagance wasn't there this weekend. Limousines knotted traffic in key locations, but you could actually get a parking place in front of the Shoreham on Saturday night. Some coat rooms still looked like mink stores, but thousands were bundled in their wools, traipsing from Saturday brunches to Sunday cocktails.
"It's just not the same the second time," said Nancy Clark Reynolds, a Reagan intimate.
The Reagans hosted two White House receptions yesterday, one a buffet lunch of pasta shells carbonara for 170 (mostly official guests and immediate members of the Bush and Reagan families), and the other featuring champagne for 110 (including some California friends of the Reagans' and more distant relatives of the Bushes and Reagans).
More in evidence this time were thousands of grass-roots supporters from all over the country.
"Much more populist this time," said Republican lawyer Roy Cohn politely as he was sandwiched up against a wall on Saturday.
Bob and Elizabeth Dole preened for 1988, and Frank Sinatra crooned his last Reagan hurrah. The movie stars were still on hand, but not nearly as many as before. Tom Selleck strutted and Patricia Neal smiled. Charlton Heston did a reading and Dean Martin charmed. At a party yesterday for Neal, which was supposed to feature many of them, only Selleck appeared.
Still for some, the nation's capital is once again alive with a sense of history unfolding, and a quadrennial rush of excitement.
"Oh, yes, a lot of enthusiasm," said Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger yesterday. "Always a town of renewal."