This is the story of The Washington Lothario. Make that The Former Washington Lothario. He just got undone by a Capital Coincidence.

The story begins two years ago, in a parking garage on 17th Street NW. A woman in her early 40s was waiting for her car when a stranger walked up and said, "Could you please tell me where I can find the subway to the Kennedy Center?"

The stranger was about five years older than she. He was well groomed and wore an immaculate tan poplin suit. He had "gorgeous blue eyes" and thinning light brown hair, tending slightly toward strawberry. The whole impression: "kind of older preppie -- very attractive," the woman says.

She told the man where to catch the Blue or Orange Line. But he had only just begun. He asked if she would go with him and have a drink at the Kennedy Center bar.

The woman refused. But she gave him her business card, figuring that "that was safe enough."

The man called a few days later. He invited her to dinner at The Watergate Hotel. The woman accepted. Over wine, he told her that he was John Andrews, a top State Department official who was just wrapping up a new trade agreement with Japan.

Then, a few days later, a second dinner. During this one, "John" said he lived at Columbia Plaza, a large apartment complex just up the street. He said his parents lived in Charlottesville and his grown daughter lived in London.

"He couldn't have been more charming," says the woman. "I was really getting interested."

But the man never called again. Half curious and half wary, the woman checked out his story. The State Department had never heard of a John Andrews. Neither had Columbia Plaza.

"I said to myself, 'Hmmm, must have been a married man looking for a quickie fling,' " the woman says. She chalked it up as just one of those things.

Eighteen months later, the woman was talking to a friend who is also in her early 40s. The friend recounted the most amazing tale.

She said a man in his late 40s had come up to her in the subway while she was reading a book and asked how she liked it. A dinner invitation soon followed. During the meal, the man identified himself as John William Thompson.

He had gorgeous blue eyes and thinning light brown hair, tending slightly toward strawberry. He said he was a key behind-the-scenes player for Uncle Sam in the Geneva arms negotiations. And where did he live? Columbia Plaza, he had said.

The second woman fell harder than the first. She began an affair with the man that lasted for several weeks. But they always rendezvoused at her place, never at Columbia Plaza. And one day, as he had done with Woman One, John William Thompson abruptly stopped calling Woman Two.

Half curious and half wary, Woman Two tried to find "John William Thompson" at State and at Columbia Plaza. No such guy.

Then came summer, 1985. The two women were having lunch with a third, who was approximately the same age. Woman Three knew nothing of the encounters the other two had had with "John." But she was bubbling with news.

"She said she was walking through Landmark Shopping Center [in Alexandria] when a man came up and said he couldn't help noticing her," Woman One recalled. "We said, 'Wait a minute! Was he in his late 40s, thinning light brown hair, blah, blah?'

"She said, 'How did you know?' "

Woman Three described how "Tom Hamilton" had taken her to fancy restaurants, told her he lived in Columbia Plaza and told her he was commuting to and from Geneva.

"He was smooth, without being a smoothie," Woman Three said. "He seemed to want me to fall in love with him." She acknowledges that she started to, even though she says she had suspicions all along about his honesty.

But the lunch with her two friends changed Woman Three's plans in a big hurry. When "Tom" called a few days later, she said she didn't want to see him any more. He hasn't called since.

The message to the fair sex is plain: Unless you like being made to feel foolish by congenital liars, find out a little more about a man who asks you out. Like his phone number, for example.

But the message to The Washington Lothario is even plainer: We're wise to you, pal. Here's hoping the glare of publicity puts you out of business permanently.

From the pen of Rockville's Jim Doorby:

A copy of President Reagan's budget was sent to the Library of Congress last week.

They filed it under "Fiction."

And from the pen of Hank Harrison (home town unknown):

Definition of a meal with a 4-year-old:

Whining and dining.