"This is ridiculous, it's absurd, it's overblown," the wife of Rep. Robert W. Davis said yesterday. "I'm waiting for the National Enquirer to start sifting through my garbage."
Welcome to Day II of the Marty Davis Saga. When last seen, the blond-tressed Davis, 36, wife of a four-term Republican congressman and erstwhile mortician from rural Michigan, was gazing out of the February issue of Dossier magazine, bending over in a cutaway exercise leotard and high-heel shoes.
Yesterday, after the Associated Press disseminated the leggy pose in four-color separation from coast to coast, the switchboard in the Longworth Building office lit up like neon. There were more calls, said the congressman's press secretary, Paul Ganz, than "when the boss went to take a look at Grenada right after we invaded."
At the Davis home in Falls Church, the phone rang, and rang, and rang.
"I've gotten calls from 'Good Morning America,' the 'Today' show, CBS 'Nightwatch' -- I mean, all these people!" said the object of all this attention, who was wearing jeans and a sweater yesterday. "I told them all, 'No, not at all.' I told 'Good Morning America' that I don't want to be fodder for the early morning news vulture . . .
"My husband asked me if I wanted to go to the State of the Union address, but I'm afraid I might upstage Ronnie Reagan."
It all started when Davis, a former TV and radio reporter, now a sometime model and media consultant, sent the photo along with a letter to Dossier, a 40,000-circulation monthly geared to Washington high society.
"It was just my sense of humor," said Davis, who, as a public relations consultant for a plastic surgeon, recently distributed a whimsical House bill under her husband's signature appointing the surgeon "Youth Czar."
In her letter, which was published in response to a December feature picturing five congressional wives modeling evening gowns, Davis wrote: "Yes, there are congressional wives who aren't cloying Barbie dolls swathed in Ultrasuede. And (gasp) some of us even have brains . . . We're not at all stuck in a 1950s Donna Reed time warp."
On Tuesday -- Day I of the Saga -- she elaborated on those comments to a reporter: "Just because she's married to a congressman, she doesn't have to look like a toad."
On Day II she marveled: "This thing has mushroomed into a cause ce'le bre. I mean, can't we just talk about Geneva or something?"
She said several wives of congressmen called yesterday to offer support, and added, "I talked to my husband at the office. He said he was about to leave for the congressional gym and would probably be in for a lot of razzing. And I said, 'Yes, you probably will.' "
While his wife talked -- "against my will," she said -- Rep. Davis "pulled the plug on everything" and was not giving interviews, according to his press secretary. His conservative constituents in Michigan's 11th District, meanwhile, were awaiting the photo in their morning papers.
"It's a pretty suggestive pose," said editor Rick Fromm of the Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton, Mich. "It's sexy, is what it is. We're considering it for page one."
"I can't believe this is happening," said Houghton County Republican Committeeman John Sullivan. "At this time of year, I don't think an outfit like that would be at all well received."
"It's sure going to hit the fan," said Dick Storm, a radio reporter for WHUH, also in Houghton. "We have a conservative population in the district -- a lot of senior citizens and Apostolic Lutherans -- and they're just not going to go for it."
Marty Davis, for her part, has no regrets.
"Absolutely, I'd do it again," she said.