Washington in August. This is the flip side of April in Paris, Moonlight in Vermont or Saint Paddy's Day in Boston. The lyricist's ultimate challenge, I suppose, would be to rhapsodize on our parched petunias, deceased dogwoods, visible oxygen and a Lincoln Memorial that seems to turn yellow -- and you wish poor Abe, sitting up there, could at least loosen his tie. Such a gifted songwriter would probably pen, "Come on Along and Listen to -- the Lullaby of Wilkes Barre."

Since those people in the Visitor's and Convention Bureau are no doubt summering where the temperature averages 74 degrees, we who stay behind must become our own boosters:

Let's put up a banner at National Airport that says, "Welcome to August in D.C. -- The Smog's on Us!"

Radio stations could offer a cash prize to the first person who spots a dog whose tongue isn't hanging out.

Keep cool by calling weatherman Gordon Barnes to ask what the ski conditions are at Blue Knob.

Call Harden and Weaver to check if Bo-Peep Country Day School in Montgomery County is closed.

Yes, good-natured pranks can speed the month along.

Go up to the men working on the National Cathedral and tell them the bishop wants it done by Tuesday. Better yet, form an office pool, betting on which will be finished first, National Cathedral or the Willard.

If you are an Orioles fan, hire Edward Bennett Williams to defend Joe Altobelli.

Try returning a book to the Library of Congress.

Wire the mayor's office, telling him that the portable dumpster he gave you last election year needs new tires.

Go aboard the canal boat in Georgetown and ask if it stops at Farragut North.

Call Dominique's Restaurant and ask if Bambi is fresh.

Who am I kidding? Enough of this useless pretense. None of the above would ease this month. Washington in August is God's plan for penance in this area. So, suffer we must.

As for me, I will sit here, look at the calendar, mop my brow and start reading "Grapes of Wrath" for comic relief.