It's four years later. Things just aren't the same with Nancy's Old Gang.
Betsy Bloomingdale isn't talking to reporters. At all. Except to say that things are "wonderful." Jerry Zipkin never stops -- he zips in and zips out for another party. An hour later, he zips back in, heads for a back table and says "terrific." But, he adds, "I'm not going to be interviewed. Thank you very much."
But Zipkin, even if he won't talk, gets talked about. Toward the front of the room at the post-ball gathering at the Ritz Carlton's Jockey Club, lawyer Roy Cohn said of Zipkin, "He talks to Nancy every morning. He was complaining yesterday afternoon that he couldn't get the White House on the phone. I said, 'Jerry, I'm sure that if they'd known it was you calling, they would have put extra operators on.' "
The crowd of about 100 was invited by Guilford Dudley and John Coleman. In 1981 Dudley, a Nashville multimillioniare, gave an after-the-ball party. Cheeks were kissed and there was an air of excitement. At this year's post-ball party, cheeks were kissed but the feeling wasn't quite the same.
"I really think there's a big difference, to give you a serious answer," said Dudley's wife, Jane. "I think there was an excitement last time. This time it goes much deeper. Perhaps because there's not as much a change."
This time around, she said, "the country's pulled together. And I think it's because President Reagan is such a decent man, a family man, a good person."
For subzero temperatures, a lot of guests last night wore strapless dresses. Betsy Bloomingdale, who had planned to wear a backless outfit, opted for a long-sleeve velvet dress instead, she told friends.
Just after Attorney General William French Smith left, comedian Don Rickles entered, looking for laughs all the way. As if on cue, the insult artist accused a bystander of stepping on his "$7,000 shoes." When a guest suggested he repair to the men's room to undo the damage, Rickles began loudly asking everyone nearby, "Where's the john?" He repeated it several times to strangers, before slipping into a corridor. When he returned, he walked back into the party, asking, "Anybody bigger than me here?" The first person he bumped into was Charles Wick.
Among the guests were Swedish Ambassador Wilhelm Wachtmeister, former head of the Organization of American States Alejandro Orfila, former Cabinet member Elliot Richardson, actresses Mary Martin and Patricia Neal and actor Michael York.
Martin said she had talked to President Reagan twice this weekend. "They're very close friends of mine. I love them very much. They're just fabulous," she said. "They're calm and lovely and warm."