* News item: Plenty of Yuppies without children live in Arlington County. Now Arlington officials are seeking Yuppies with children to buy homes in the county.

As every parent tells every child, Arlington, just be patient. You have geography on your side.

It seems to me that a strange new phenomenon is taking hold in the Washington area. It's called the I-Don't-Want-to-Spend-My-Life-Behind-the-Wheel Movement. It's showing up all over Fairfax, Potomac, Upper Marlboro and Burke and other points in the ionosphere. It's led by Yuppie Moms and Dads who once thought that great gobs of open space were the best places to raise their kids.

So they moved 20 and 30 miles out. But now they blow two hours of every work day in cars, and they see that much less of their kids. At the same time, they find themselves isolated from the attractions of downtown.

Arlington (and the other close-in suburbs) have already begun to attract these disaffected Yuppie parents, and I'd say the trend is just beginning. The Yups just have to save a few Washingtons so that they can afford the jump from a $105,000 house to a $175,000 house. But don't worry, Arlington. Every 40-minute backup on the interstates hastens the day when Yuppie families will be your norm, not your rarity.

* News item: Bowie Race Course closes.

A real shame. The Track In The Pines certainly had personality. What it didn't have was a large body of daytime racing fans on which to draw.

Other big-city tracks thrive because night-shift workers get up at noon, pull back the curtains and say, "Hey, nice day. I think I'll go to the track today."

But Washington has fewer night-shift workers than any other city in the country. Combine that fact with the arrival of casino gambling in Atlantic City, and for Bowie, it was just a matter of time.

Longtime railbirds are swapping "Bowie stories" this week. My favorite concerns a seedy bettor whose horse had just been nosed out in a close finish. At Bowie, you could always get within shouting distance of the jockeys as they dismounted, and this bettor didn't hesitate.

"Hey, Gustines!" he yelled at a jockey by that name who had been aboard the close-but-no-cigar horse. "You just cost me big money, Gustines! You're a bum, Gustines!"

"So why'd you bet on me?" Gustines shouted.

The bettor thought for a second, then replied: "Because I figured you were less of a bum than the others!"

Moments like that are a little more rare at modern tracks. Thanks, Bowie. You made it fun.

* News Item: The Beautiful People of New York have a new trendy way to deliver a message in person. It's called a Rambo-Gram. A Sylvester Stallone look-alike -- complete with hairy chest, bandolier and headband -- will snarl out your message anywhere, any time, in a vintage South Philadelphia accent. Cost: a mere $125.

Here are just a few things you can do for $125, friends and neighbors:

You can spend a night in a swanky hotel.

You can have a glorious dinner for two and still have enough left to leave a tip.

You can go to New York and back by train -- twice.

You can see Rambo The Movie 30 times.

Here is one thing you can do for 22 cents.

Send a message.

By letter.

True, the mail carrier won't have a bandolier or a headband. And he'll probably have a Murralyn accent, radder den duh way dey talk in Rocky's old naybuhhood, yaknow?

But if you use the mails, you'll have $124.78 left over. For that, Rambo (and any imitator) could even break down and buy a shirt.

* News item: The July 4 "celebration" on the Mall left a bitter aftertaste in many mouths. Two-hour rides home on Metro were common. Workers spent days cleaning up the mess. Meanwhile, there was much grumbling about fights and drunks that the cops did nothing to control. Now there's talk that next year, there shouldn't be an Independence Day event on the Mall at all.

Why are we so anxious to throw the baby out with the bath water? The problem is not the police, or the clean-up crews, or even The Beach Boys. The problem is the size of the event.

More than a half-million people showed up for this year's Mall Madness. There is no way that so many people can be in one place for so many hours on a hot day without fights or drunks. Nor can so many people crush into the subway system at approximately the same time without delays.

We don't need to cancel next year's Mall event. We need to stage two others. One in Virginia (at, say, Manassas), the other in Maryland (at, say, Columbia).

If each of these satellite celebrations attracted 150,000 people, only about 200,000 or so would be left to descend on the Mall. With only two-fifths as many people there, we should have only two-fifths as many problems.