Forget Bork. Forget Casey's Confession. The hottest debate in Washington these days is over "Fatal Attraction," the Michael Douglas-Glenn Close film that explores the chilling consequences of an extramarital affair gone amok. It's "Brief Encounter" remade by Alfred Hitchcock.

The box-office boffo movie, which explores the sexual politics of a one-night stand and the tragic consequences when an emotionally unstable woman won't take "Let's do lunch someday" for an answer, has become something of a phenomenon among single and married people alike.

"People haven't stopped talking about it," says Washington divorce lawyer Glenn Lewis. "In my office. At the courthouse. I think it's right up there with AIDS in keeping people monogamous."

"I haven't heard anybody talking about anything else," says Eric Butler, bartender at the downtown restaurant Herb's. He has noticed women discussing the act of revenge taken by Close against the married Douglas. "I've overheard more than one woman saying, 'God, I've felt like doing that.' "

A Paramount film that led the nation's weekend box office business for the fourth straight week and has so far grossed more than $45 million, "Fatal Attraction" has struck a nerve among the over-30 generation -- the people who made love, not war, and are now making mortgage payments.

The message, according to the film's coproducer Stanley Jaffe, includes the familial values of fidelity and loyalty and the consequences of breaking those bonds.

"At some point you have to pay the piper," he says. The character of the seduced and abandoned Other Woman who wreaks havoc on her former lover's family, says Jaffe, was not based on any specific real-life situation. Rather, he says, it was intended as a glimpse of how social mores have changed. "In the '60s and '70s, the generation that {Close} portrays was not out to get married," Jaffe says. Now the pendulum has swung back. "There is a strong feeling today of people wanting to find a home."

Jaffe knows the film has struck a familiar chord. "After I made 'Kramer vs. Kramer,' " he says, referring to the Dustin Hoffman-Meryl Streep tear-jerker about a custody battle, "people came up to me and said after the movie they went home immediately and hugged their kid. Now they're going home and hugging their wife."

Jaffe says he is "amazed" at the intense reaction to "Fatal Attraction."

"My wife just called me from the beauty parlor. Her hairdresser said people have been coming in all week and that's all they want to talk about."

The core of the emotionally wrenching story is the inability to let go. Something not uncommon when relationships fail.

"Not letting go is something we deal with every day," says Lewis, the divorce lawyer. "We had one case where the man was involved in CIA-type work." After the breakup, "he was running all types of surveillance" on the woman. "We've had cases of dead animals and things like that," Lewis adds.

Real-life revenge can range anywhere from anonymous phone calls to setting the ex-lover's clothes on fire.

"These people are obviously emotionally warped," says noted Washington divorce attorney Mark Sandground. "One woman threw out her husband's entire collection of tropical fish on the front lawn." Sandground had them frozen as evidence.

The lawyer says the breakup of a relationship can definitely make people crazy. He has recently completed the court papers for dog visitation rights between a divorced couple.

"She gets them every other weekend and Wednesday nights," says Sandground. "They alternate holidays."

"A guy I knew broke up with his girlfriend," says Jaffe. "He had this nice house. One night he came home and there were obscenities written all over this beautiful white fence. I guess that was her way of saying goodbye."

Jaffe says the film's director, producers and screen writer had numerous brainstorming sessions on the topic of revenge. "Everyone brought something of their own experience to the film," he says. Obsessive love has been explored before (Scott Spencer's "Endless Love" is a recent example), but no other film of late has captured the nightmare of sexual blackmail quite as convincingly. "All of us," says Jaffe, "to one extent or another become fixated on someone. I think that's why it works. There's a lot of truth in it."

Last February a young Arlington woman was attacked by her fiance''s knife-wielding ex-girlfriend. The attacker, Mary Prevost, disguised herself as a flower messenger. When Cheryle Lee Wallis answered the door, Prevost lunged at her with a seven-inch kitchen knife.

Wallis and her fiance', Robert Hogue, have since broken off their engagement; Prevost has been sentenced to six months in jail and is free on appeal.

"I guess I sort of snapped out," Prevost told the judge. "I just wanted someone to hurt as much as I was hurting."

Wallis says she hasn't seen "Fatal Attraction." "I have no desire to see it," she said yesterday. "I guess you can understand why.