For Secretary of State George Shultz it's not just life in the fast lane, but also life in the fast court.
Come April 7, Shultz and Undersecretary Michael Armacost will find out just how fast when they face West Germany's tennis superstar Boris Becker and Argentina's veteran Guillermo Vilas on the White House courts out of public view.
That's right, tennis fans, Shultz and Armacost across the net from Becker and Vilas, because that's the way Shultz wanted it.
Promoter Bill Dennis arranged the White House match as part of the two stars' daylong visit here in connection with the Special Olympics. There is no word yet on the strategy Becker and Vilas intend to use to defeat Shultz and Armacost. Perhaps a la Bobby Riggs in his tennis hustling days when he played with a dog on a leash? Or maybe by making right-handed Becker play left-handed, and left-handed Vilas play right-handed?
That night Becker and Vilas will play an exhibition match at George Washington University's Smith Center. Patrons paying $100 (other tickets are $15, $20 and $30, available at Ticket Centre offices) will be able to meet Becker and Vilas at an embassy reception hosted by the Federal Republic of Germany's Ambassador Guenther van Well and his wife Carolyn.
It's an event the town's tennis elite isn't likely to skip. Already planning to attend the reception are the ambassadors of Sweden, Argentina and Austria; Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige; former secretary of state Alexander Haig; Sens. Ed Zorinsky, Richard Lugar and John Warner; Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor; USIA Director Charles Z. Wick; and FBI Director William Webster.
Vice President George Bush wanted to challenge Becker and Vilas, which is how the White House courts first came into play, but he had another engagement. But there'll still be a Bush on hand: Son Marvin will be helping Dennis coordinate.
President Reagan hasn't even packed his bags and already he's affecting traffic on the Indonesian island of Bali. He and Nancy Reagan will visit there April 29 through May 2 on the way to the economic summit in Tokyo. In preparation, all official Indonesian government cars on Bali are being sold -- to the delight of eager-to-buy cab drivers -- and replaced by new Volvo sedans assembled in Singapore.
The two goldfish President Reagan bought to replace those that died when he was taking care of them between summit talks with Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva last November have more than made up for their deceased brethren.
Reagan, you'll remember, stayed at the lakeside mansion of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV and Princess Salimah Aga Khan. In vacating the premises, their son Hussein left a note asking Reagan to feed his goldfish. Reagan did, but they died.
At last week's White House dinner for Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Princess Salimah gave a status report on the replacements. You might expect a pair of princely goldfish to be well bred, but these are also breeding very well indeed.
Said Salimah, not attempting to hide her astonishment: "So far, they have had 30 babies!"
Now it can be told: President and Mrs. Reagan, like parents everywhere, are sometimes annoyed, angry and hurt by their kids.
Patti Davis' autobiographical novel, "Home Front," may be giving some people the impression that the Reagans weren't dream parents. But they set the record straight from their point of view in an interview with Barbara Walters taped for ABC-TV a month ago and aired last night.
Both Reagans told Walters they thought they were good parents as their children were growing up.
"I thought I was a good father," Reagan said.
"I tried to be a good mother," Nancy Reagan said.
"She was a good mother," the president interjected.
Reagan, who once said he usually left the disciplining to Mrs. Reagan, observed that "Maybe there were times when I should have been sterner than I was."
Mrs. Reagan said she didn't think anyone was perfect, "but then, you know, there's no perfect parent, there's no perfect child."
Sondra Gotlieb, the in-the-flesh "wife of" the Canadian ambassador who cuffed her social secretary at last week's dinner for the Canadian prime minister, will have a chance to tell all Thursday night at the National Press Club.
Or, at least, to put the grand old art of diplomatic slapping into a contemporary perspective.
Gotlieb's book, "Wife Of," is this month's selection for the NPC's book-rap series. Last month's author was former ambassador and diplomatic troubleshooter Sol Linowitz; next month's will be Colorado Gov. Richard D. Lamm.
Hearst Newspapers' Marianne Means, as panel moderator, lined up Gotlieb last January for the series. Means said yesterday that John R.W. Fieldhouse, embassy press counselor, confirmed that Gotlieb's schedule shows an NPC appearance. Fieldhouse also said he would get back to Means on whether the "wife of" still intends to be there.
Anna Craxi, determined to find out as much as she could about how the United States is dealing with drug abuse, wound up her Washington stay on Friday by visiting Straight, the same drug rehabilitation center Nancy Reagan showed Princess Diana last fall.
The wife of Italy's Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, who is becoming a frequent visitor to U.S. drug abuse conferences for wives of foreign leaders, said she and several of her European counterparts get together for their own drug abuse "summits" from time to time, though they are usually of a "bilateral" nature.
She said official trips abroad with her husband rarely allow her time to visit rehabilitation centers in the host country. Unlike Nancy Reagan's foreign trips, Anna Craxi's are not advanced by staff teams traveling ahead to prepare for her needs or desires.
"In the East Bloc countries they would never admit that there is a drug problem so they would never work out something for me to visit," Craxi said. "If they say they have a problem, they also say they don't talk about their problems."
On the other hand, Craxi said that when she and Raisa Gorbachev met last spring the Soviet first lady told her that overindulgence in alcohol is a problem that affects both young and old. Playing the sympathetic diplomat, Craxi said she tried to comfort Gorbachev by saying that perhaps the fault was the climate.
"She told me that 'when it's cold and we're in the mountains, we have a little glass of grappa," Craxi said. "I told her that we, too, when we go to the mountains and it's bitterly cold, you know, we have a little shot of something."
Craxi said she was told vodka is no longer served at state dinners because party leader Mikhail Gorbachev is a teetotaler. The night the two couples spent together, the strongest stuff served was water, because Bettino Craxi also is a teetotaler.
"Even in Italy," said Anna Craxi, "there are some teetotalers."