The polls are closed. The people have spoken. The Nation's Capital is ready to kiss its butts goodbye.
So say several dozen readers of this column, by a ratio of approximately 8 to 1, in response to a question from the guy typing this.
The typist had heard of an antismoking slogan being used elsewhere in the country. He thought it was pretty clever. It was: Kiss Your Butt Goodbye.
But the question was whether Washington -- supposedly a city of northern charm, southern efficiency and prehistoric social attitudes -- could stand such a racy battle cry. One way to find out. The typist solicited votes.
"I love it!" wrote Martin S. Lovullo of Silver Spring. " . . . I think this message has the winning ingredients for success; it's brief, clever and conveys just enough controversy to prevent people from burying its meaning in their subconscious."
"I think that the only 'Butts' will be raised by a company called Philip Morris down in Richmond," said David S. Campbell of Reston.
"Washington can handle it!" declared Walter S. Filleman Jr., now of Baltimore, but until recently of here. "We are not a bunch of flat-headed, beady-eyed dullards who cannot put up with an innocuous slogan that could be aired on 'Mr. Rogers.' "
"This native Washingtonian is dying to see some humor come above board in this stuffy ol' town," said Jan Edmondson.
"A city that can put up with the antics of some members of Congress and the administration can survive Kiss Your Butt Goodbye," guessed Jeri Colenda of Arlington.
On the negative side of the ledger was Dennis F. Kern of Alexandria.
"This is an idea so tacky that you had to like it!" he writes. "I wish militant nonsmokers (especially you) would kiss my butt goodbye. You want to stop a smoker? Fine. Promise not to foul up my comic pages with your opinion of it any more, and I'll quit . . . . "
Walker Merryman of Adelphi finds the slogan "mildly offensive" and "unlikely to be terribly effective in the long run."
"An Old Lady" (her phrase, not mine) voted no to the slogan because "we have a lot of visitors in Washington and a bunch of school kids (our own or visitors) could get awfully raucous and noisy with that."
Finally, Amy Wells of Fort Washington said this:
"Risque-ness has its place . . . .But to splash it on billboards, newspapers, bulletin boards and what-not is discarding our responsibility to lead the young. Rome fell but Washington must not."
Perhaps the most important vote of all belongs to Allen Anderson, executive director of the D.C. Lung Association. He says he's in love with the slogan. Anderson says he isn't sure when Kiss will arrive here. But he's "pretty sure" it won't be long.
Like so many of us, Ken Maloney of Greenbelt got to thinking the other day that if this is April, it will be soon be May. And if it'll soon be May, it'll soon be June. And if it'll soon be June, it isn't too early to start thinking about summer vacation.
But where to go this year? Well, thought Ken, surely the phone book(s) would tell him where to get general tourist info for the states along the East Coast.
So Ken's fingers began walking. But they got tired out before they discovered what he was looking for. As happens so often with Our Wonderful Directories, you have to know the exact name of an organization -- or the exact heading under which it appears in the Yellow Pages -- before you can find it.
Discouraged, Ken turned to me. And because I believe deeply in motherhood and apple pie (but above all in summer vacations), I have amassed the following list of numbers for general tourist information in the most frequently visited Eastern states:
MARYLAND: Call 301-269-3517 for maps, and 1-800-331-1750 for a travel kit.
NEW JERSEY: Its Washington office, 638-0631.
PENNSYLVANIA: 1-800-VISIT PA.
NEW YORK: 1-800-CALL NYS.
NORTH CAROLINA: 1-800-847-4862.
FLORIDA: Call 1-800-FLA KEYS for information about Key West and thereabouts, 1-800-641-1111 for information about the Miami area, and 1-800-847-4867 for the rest of the state.
As for the other 42 states, Roz Faiola, a Rockville travel agent, has this excellent suggestion:
"I always call a congressman from the state I plan to visit and speak to his or her secretary. And they can never do enough. After all, they want to encourage travel in their state, so they end up sending me oodles of information."
And how do you find the proper congressman? Before you tear your hair out, Ken, the main number for the Capitol is 225-3121.