By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts

A Little Bubbly at the Ball? Some Revelers Test Their True Colors

We were entertained by all the fuss last week over the District's zero-tolerance non-policy policy on drinking and driving -- until we remembered we'd accepted an invitation to Friday's Meridian Ball. Meaning not only would we be mingling with 750 potential scofflaws -- black ties and elegant gowns not withstanding -- but, gracious, we might tipple a tad ourselves and risk showing up on a Wanted poster. Worse, the annual ball is a traveling party, celebrated with formal dinners at embassies throughout Washington, then dancing and drinks at historic Meridian House.

So, in the interest of public good, we armed ourselves with the BreathScan, a cute little gadget that gives a positive reading (turning pale aqua) when blood alcohol level passes a mere .02 -- well below the legally drunk .08 but reportedly high enough to land a driver in a D.C. jail cell if he or she seems impaired to a police officer.


* Carol Schwartz, D.C. Council member, at-large

"A little bit" of Lebanese red wine

Impairment indicator: None (political reflex intact -- lucidly describes her bill to override police zero-tolerance)

Transportation: Driving herself

Results: Negative

* Jeanne Vander Myde Warner, real estate agent

One glass of white wine

Impairment indicator: None (political spouse reflex intact -- volunteered to take test instead of non-drinking husband Sen. John Warner while he scolds us about the need for strict DUI laws)

Transportation: Hired driver

Results: Negative

* Knut Vollebaek, ambassador from Norway

Two glasses of red wine

Impairment indicator: Conviviality, agreeing to take test

Transportation: Hired driver

Results: Ambiguous (bathwater blue)

* Ricardo Ernst, professor of business at Georgetown University

At least two glasses of wine at the British Embassy

Impairment indicator: Charming evasiveness -- claimed the drinks didn't count because "not on U.S. soil."

Transportation: [We laughed so hard, we forgot to ask]

Results: Borderline (almost aqua)

* Kate Bradley, banker

Three glasses of wine, one champagne, a vodka-and-soda

Impairment indicator: Animated conversation; touching people on the shoulder while laughing at their jokes

Transportation: Getting ride from friend

Results: Positive

* Bill Dunlap, artist

Two glasses of wine, two vodkas

Impairment indicator: Self-deprecating jokes about Mississippi childhood

Transportation: Driving himself

Results: Positive

* Diana Flamini, social secretary for the Spanish Embassy

Three glasses of wine, two champagnes

Impairment indicator: Vivacious amusement

Transportation: Husband driving

Results: Positive

* Amy Argetsinger, columnist

Two "small" glasses of wine, three champagnes

Impairment indicator: Ordering a fourth champagne

Transportation: Getting ride from fellow columnist

Results: Positive

* Roxanne Roberts, columnist

Two "small" glasses of wine, one champagne, sips from three separate drinks before setting them down and losing them

Impairment indicator: When doing stand-on-one-leg test, cheated by leaning against tree

Transportation: Driving self

Results: Positive


This week we told you about the flap on the Capitol Hill set of "The Good Shepherd," Robert De Niro's film set in 1961. Five African American children hired as extras were abruptly pulled from the scene when the crew decided that black and white schoolchildren together would be historically inaccurate.

Readers were appalled -- not just at the insensitivity toward the children but the insensitivity toward Washington history:

Margery K. Sweat, Hillcrest: Someone needs to get their facts straight re: integration of public classrooms in 1961 Washington, D.C. I was in the fifth grade at Kimberly Elementary School in 1961 and the classes were thoroughly integrated -- in fact, there were more blacks than whites in my class. So much for historical accuracy in movie-making.

Bill Gribbin, Brookland: I'm not saying everybody loved everybody all the time, but in terms of black kids and white kids walking across the street together -- it happened all the time! They didn't have to take the black kids out of the scene. It would not have been an anachronism to have black kids and white kids walking together on Capitol Hill in 1961.