A pepper mill sent to former president Ronald Reagan as an 80th-birthday present was blown up Tuesday after Secret Service agents suspected it was a bomb. After an X-ray of the package could not conclusively identify the item, the Los Angeles police bomb squad was called in. "It wasn't a bomb -- it was one large pepper pot," a police spokesman said. "And it wasn't ticking." A Secret Service spokesman described the item as an electric pepper grinder, apparently a gift from an unidentified foreign dignitary, sent to the Reagans' home in the exclusive Bel-Air district of Los Angeles ...

Reagan's most notable birthday party finesse came after most newspaper deadlines had passed Wednesday night. At the finale of the $2,500-a-plate ceremony in Los Angeles, an enormous birthday cake was wheeled onto the stage in front of old friend Margaret Thatcher and about 1,000 Republican faithful. As Reagan took a long knife and cut into the top level of the cake, he inadvertently leaned into the lower levels, which were covered with white frosting. Then, unaware of the pancake-size mess on his jacket front, Reagan ambled over to a nearby lectern to say a few words. The tittering of the audience alerted his wife, Nancy, to the gaffe and she rushed forward with a napkin. But the Gipper, finally realizing the problem, held her off, picked up a fork and, with the precision of a barber, scraped the frosting from his jacket in two careful strokes.

Medic Alert

President Bush's nephew Jonathan Bush Jr. has enlisted in the Army Reserves and hopes to serve as a medic in the Persian Gulf, if the war lasts longer than the 4 1/2 months he'll spend in training. Bush, 21, the son of George Bush's brother, said, "It seemed like {CNN's} Bernie Shaw was looking right at me when he said there was a shortage {of medics}."

More Surgery for Conte

Rep. Silvio Conte underwent a second round of surgery Tuesday night to remove an accumulation of blood in his brain following an operation last Friday to remove a blood clot. Patrick Larkin, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican, said a routine examination led to the discovery of the blood. The operation was termed a success, and Conte's condition is listed as critical but stable.

Lloyd Webber's Secret Wedding

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber secretly married Madeleine Gurdon "several days ago," according to a spokesman for the composer. Lloyd Webber, 42, and Gurdon, 27, had been expected to wed tomorrow in a large ceremony. The private ceremony, held at London's Westminster Register Office, was attended by only a few "very close relatives," the spokesman said.

Another Playboy Baby

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner and his wife, Kimberley Conrad, have announced they are expecting their second child in September. Their first, 10-month-old Marston Glenn Hefner, was born April 9, Hefner's 64th birthday. Hefner and his wife, a former Playmate of the Year, were married July 1, 1989.