Perhaps only in Washington: in the last year about 400 people -- from a secretary in Walter Mondale's office to local lawyers -- have attended a class on how to social-climb. It's taught by Rozanne Weissman, a free-lance writer and public relations person for the National Education Association.Her 3-hour-long evening classes are under the auspices of the Open University. Titled "The Washington Connection," the course offers hints on how to:
Get mentioned in gossip columns ("Become a source, get known").
Get invited to embassy soirees ("Call and ask about national day parties").
Buy designer clothes cheaply for the party life ("Shop Loehmann's back room").
"We examine various social climbers, from Steve Martindale to the Smith Bagleys," says Weissman, 36. "We look at the pattern of the organizations for which they do volunteer work, at they do volunteer work, at their connections and how they made them. I felt there were a lot of people who had their nose pressed against the window in this town, who could only envision what they wanted. I encourage them to be more gutsy and creative."
Weissman left a high-profile job with the media in Cleveland 12 years ago to come to Washington as an outsider. She says today she's too busy to follow the social-climbing advice she gives her students, but since her class began last year, CBS, People magazine, AP, BBC and other media have interviewed her. Which provides another lesson to students who are paying attention to their teacher: achieve a measure of fame by doing something catchy, such as teaching a course on social climbing.