After parking my car on Saturday night, I walked toward the employes' entrance to The Washington Post. Two attractive young women nearby were walking in the same direction.
They deserved more than one glance, but that's all they got from me because my head was full of $1,000 bills. It was my intention to write about big bills on Saturday night, and so in my head I had already begun formulating the opening lines of the column.
I was stirred from my reverie when one of the two young women quickened her pace, caught up with me, and said, "Excuse me, sir. Could you tell me where is the Hotel Bellevue?"
Hotel Bellevue? She saw the blank look on my face and added, "We know eet is on 15 Street, nowt far away. Thees is 15 Street, no?"
Eet? Nowt? Even a hick like me could tell she was French.
"I'm sorry," I said, "but I don't place it. Are you tourists?"
"Yes," she said. "We know it is nearby because we stayed there last night."
"Come inside and we will find a phone book," I said.
She was a little dubious about that. "We do not weesh to coal," she said. "We wish to go there."
"I know you don't want to call," I said, "but the telephone book will give the address."
"I have the address right here," she said. "See?" She showed me a pamphlet that said, "Bellevue Hotel, 15 E St. NW.
"Oh," I said. "That is up near Union Station, about a mile from here. If you're walking, I guess the simplest way is to go up L Street to 14th, turn right on 14th for seven blocks to E Street, and then left on E Street for 13 1/2 blocks. Are you driving?"
"No," she said. "We walk."
I took a good look at the two of them. The blonde who had been speaking to me was a beautiful woman, about 23 years old and very shapely. The brunette was also attractive, bountifully endowed and perhaps two years younger. Both were dressed in shorts.
The thought of two attractive but unsuspecting young females strolling past 14th and L Street in shorts on a Saturday night made it clear that I had a duty to warn them what lay ahead.
I said, "I'm afraid I must mention that the area you will be passing through is heavily populated with prostitutes on a Saturday night. Those shorts you are wearing are quite similar to the hot pants that many of the girls wear. Be careful."
A brief laugh escaped for the blonde. "You think we may be mistaken for prostitutes?" she asked. I nodded, and a lively but obviously amused dialogue in French broke out between the two girls.
"Would you like me to drive you to your hotel?" I asked. Again the two girls went back and forth in French. This is a language in which I know only one word, but it was obvious one was saying, "My feet hurt, but I don't think it's such a good idea to get into a stranger's automobile," while the other must have responded, "This old goat? He's obviously harmless." When the French subsided, they informed me in English that if it wouldn't be too much trouble they would be delighted to accept the offer.
So I unparked my car and drove them to the Bellevue. En route I learned that the blonde teaches school and the younger one is a college student majoring in mathematics and computers. They, in turn, learned that I work for The Washington Post."That was The Washington Post Office where we met you?" one girl asked. You deliver the mail." No, no, not that kind of post, I assured them, but a newspaper named The Washington Post. "We exposed the Watergate scandal," I said, and in unison they cried, "Aha! Watergate!"
"Ladies," I said as I let them out at the Bellevue, "Your 'Aha!' is the only word of French I know, and now that you have exhausted my vocabulary I wish you a pleasant visit."
Tomorrow we'll worry about those $1,000 bills we were supposed to talk about today. HOW'S THAT AGAIN?
Frank Forrester passes along a story about a secretary in a municipal water department who asked, "Is waterworks all one word or is there a hydrant in the middle?" THE MALE ANIMAL
"When a man says it's a silly, childish game," notes Don Epperson, "it's probably something his wife can beat him at."