THINK OF ROMANTIC locations. Paris, Rome, even New York come to mind -- but Washington? In spite of cherry blossoms and moonlit monuments, Washington sizzles with politics and power, not passion. Even Hollywood, known for setting love in the most unlikely of places, recognized the difficulties of Washington: Significantly, the Tracy-Hepburn romance set in the nation's capital was called "Without Love."
But there is hope. Romantic hearts and souls lie buried beneath a variety of unromantic facades out there. Should you find yourself this Valentine's Day hankering after a passionless power pawn, we offer these tested prescriptions for transforming even the most hardcore bureaucrat or workaholic into an unabashed romantic.
BUREAUCRAT: Passes the buck in matters regarding love. When pressed for romantic commitment, takes six months for action and then calls for public comment.
Prescription: Replace subscription to Federal Register with Playboy or Cosmo. Slip oysters and absinthe into brown bag lunches. If all else fails, fight bureaucracy with bureaucracy: call for congressional investigation, leak love letters to the media and, as a last resort, threaten with RIF (reduction in feelings).
PURITAN: Believes romantic gestures are indulgent, unnecessary and decadent.
Prescription: Resistance must be slowly whittled down. Recommend some first-hand experience with indulgence. Once they've tried it, they usually like it. In stubborn cases, can appeal to their selfless instincts, e.g. "I know you hate silk sheets, darling, but try them for my sake."
WORKAHOLIC: Usually arrives home catatonic, rumpled and near starvation. When not at work, eating and sleeping take precedence over other primitive urges.
Prescription: Remove from Washington immediately. Use any means to get subject to isolated country inn. Strip subject of time piece, Rolodex and dictating machine. Substitute "hunks" or "buns" calendar for appointment book. Like cult- deprogramming, once you have your workaholic isolated and under your power, you may initiate re-education into the pleasures of romance. (Hint: Constant repetition works best.)
MACHO: Exhibits sex-linked characteristic confusing protectiveness and possession with love. Identifies with heroes of the action movies, e.g. Burt Reynolds, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood.
Prescription: Easily cured. Simply seeing an alter ago act romantically is ample antidote. Recommended viewing: Burt Reynolds in "Starting Over," John Wayne in "The Quiet Man." Do not, repeat, do not attempt to administer dose of Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers. Results can be lethal.
RADICAL LIBERATED SHEIK/CHIC: Views flowers, candy and other romantic gestures as symbols of sexual oppression. Associates "romance" only with language, e.g. French.
Prescription: Purge wardrobe of all unisex clothes. Ransack library and liberate political tracts including Marx, Lenin and Steinem. Replace with complete collection of doctor/nurse romance series. If all else fails, abandon treatment until next Romantic Revolution.
POLITICIAN: Phototropic sensitivity to TV lights. Never found alone; entourage of advance men and admirers makes intimate overtures difficult. Passionate responses limited to NBC, CBS and ABC.
Prescription: Forget it. Incurably unromantic, except at press conferences and on campaign posters. Will only kiss babies, and then only if it's an election year.