Thoughts while shaving....

We're beginning to think about buying a new car, and we've resolved to Buy American this time. But the geniuses in Detroit certainly make it hard.

Latest case in point: a spokesman for Pontiac I saw on television.

What Americans want in 1982, he announced, is an exciting car.

Not an economical car. Not a safe car. Not a reliable car. No, suggests this spokesman, America wants a car that looks good as it passes a fetching blonde, or a truck on a hairpin curve.

Let me level with you, Mr. Pontiac. The last thing I want is an exciting car.

I want a car that gets 30 miles to the gallon, or more. I want a car with front-wheel drive, fuel injection and radial tires--all standard on most European makes.

I want a car that won't slide off the road if I have to stop suddenly on a rainy night. I want a car whose innards are easy and cheap to fix.

I want a car that will make it to its first birthday without major mishap. I want a car that will have ten birthdays, and is built with all ten of them in mind.

I couldn't give less of a damn what color the car is, how fast it jackrabbits away from a red light, what animal it's named for, how closely the dashboard resembles a 747's.

I believe in helping my fellow Americans keep their jobs, Mr. Pontiac. As a result, I will overlook high pressure salesmen, incredible sticker prices and your company's hilarious declaration that "now the excitement really begins" (weren't 1956 Thunderbirds exciting? Or 1962 Corvettes? Or any BMW ever built?).

I will Buy American because I'm determined to, Mr. P. But you do more to change my mind than any Toyota or VW ever built.

If you pay the credit card bill on time, you aren't charged interest, right? Well, why not extend the principle to federal income tax?

Establish two deadlines: Feb. 15 and April 15. If you file by Feb. 15, no penalty. If you file between Feb. 15 and April 15, you either suffer a surcharge, or a reduction in your refund. If you file after April 15, super-surcharge or super-reduction.

Great for federal cash flow. Can't miss.

I found myself with ten minutes to kill the other day at L'Enfant Plaza. Meandering past a video games parlor, I decided I'd spent long enough as the only human being in North America who had never played Pac-Man.

I still have that distinction. The lines at the two "Pacs" were so long that I had to settle for Ms. Pac-Man.

I played twice. I got ingested by the Monster Ms. twice, each time embarrassingly early. And I came away with two questions:

What's a Pac?

What's so fascinating about the game? I feel about it the way I do about Monopoly. It looks as if it might be fun once a year. But why commit your life to it?

Maybe the outpouring of concern and cash for the rebuilding of Wolf Trap will convince outlanders once and for all that Washington has hometown feeling.

When the Santa Fe Opera burned down, local money was instrumental in rebuilding it. When Chicago's McCormick Place went up in flames, the locals didn't look to another state, or another city.

Neither did we. Apparently, we want to pay tribute to a local institution that has given so much pleasure to so many of us. And it's small wonder. How can you top a summer night on the Wolf Trap lawn, with a picnic, a clear sky and whatever kind of showbiz tickles your toes?

The pavilion will rise again, thanks to all of us--because it's for all of us.

I am announcing it here and now, in hopes that the judge will be lenient.

I plan to murder the next cashier who makes change by handing me a fistful of coins and bills with the coins stacked on top of the bills.

What that means, of course, is that I have to put down whatever I was carrying in my other hand, pluck the coins from atop the stack, put them in my jacket or pants pocket, then go back and put the bills in my wallet. The delay is never less than 20 seconds.

Coins first, then pause, cashiers. Please.