IT WAS NOT YOUR TYPICAL Washington wine and cheese party. Sure there was the engraved invitation, mailed a month in advance and carrying the requisite RSVP. There was a celebrity too, in the person of John B. Duncan, the first black D.C. commissioner. There was elbow-rubbing, small talk, smiles and lots of glitter.

What was different about this get-together was that it was for adult orthodontic patients of doctors William Wallert and Alan Bagden, thrown in their Springfield office. About 60 patients past and present gathered. They compared notes on their mouthtraps: how long they had worn braces; why they wore them; what sorts of appliances they had endured; what foods were the hardest to eat; and, of course, pain thresholds.

Call it a whine and cheese reception.

There was only one seemingly embarrassing moment. One woman had an elastic band shoot across the room while she was munching on cheese and crackers. She quickly repaired to the powder room to replace it.

All in all, the orthodontists really put on a good spread. The wine was exceptional and the cheese soft. There were no crudites or chewy breads. There were plenty of small hors d'oeuvres served with industrial-strength toothpicks, the kind with the festive frills. I did notice, however, that the mustard seed dip went virtually untouched.