Although I don't know anyone who would dare cry on Popsie Tribble's shoulder (she wouldn't want those Valentino shoulder pads disarranged), "wife of" has to admit that Popsie is definitely popular in this city, New York and points west. She rang me up to tell me about her latest success.
"Did you notice," Popsie said, "that Dexter and I were the only couple invited to all three parties for the Waleses?"
I didn't want to give Popsie the satisfaction of admitting that I scrutinized the guest list published in the papers, but before I could think of a tepid response, she continued.
"And now I'm exhausted from the Kennedy Honors. All those brunches, lunches, cocktails and dinners, not to mention the big gala Sunday night. I had the foresight to go on a peach mimosa diet and take silicon injections well before the weekend because I didn't want to be taken for a local."
"Why not?" I asked.
"The locals always look older and fatter than the Californians." Actually, Beverly, I wanted to ask if she was invited or paid the $1,000 to attend. But these social questions are delicate.
Popsie went on: "Are you going to Lionel Portant's dinner?"
"We weren't invited," I answered.
"Sondra," she chided me, "you still have a lot to learn about party protocol. Never say 'we weren't invited.' The phrase implies resentment toward the person who didn't include you, and makes one think that you're not real A-list quality."
"What should I say?"
" 'We're not going,' " Popsi replied. "The response is ambiguous enough to make others think you had a choice. Perhaps you're invited to a better party. Or you refused because you felt the dinner was B-list quality. It's a good precept to avoid talking too much about parties, whether you're invited to them or not. As long as people see you at the good ones, the word will get around."
Obviously Popsie's not one for taking her own advice, Beverly, but she is a connoisseur of the subject. Because you and Popsie go way back, I wanted her to come to the party I'm giving in honor of you and George. We're really looking forward to your visit.
"Are you doing anything for dinner two weeks from today?" I asked.
"Why?" Popsie responded. Well, Beverly, I would have been satisfied if Popsie had said yes or no. "Why" is not an answer.
"I'm giving a party in honor of Beverly. You know her from the old days."
"Are you having lots of people?" Popsie wanted to know.
"Wife of" was a little annoyed. "I don't know. You're the first person I've asked."
Popsie was silent for a moment and then said, "I wouldn't get your hopes up too high about the guest list. Unknown Canadians, nice as they are, don't attract a fancy crowd. It's too bad George hasn't made the half- billion mark on the Forbes 400 list."
I admit that George's bagel shops aren't quite ready for a takeover like RCA, but just because Boone Pickens isn't looking over George's shoulder doesn't mean people won't come.
"Frankly, Sondra," Popsie said, "I don't know if anyone will come at all if you give a party in Beverly's name. It might be a good idea to put the whole party in Joe Promisall's hands. He seems to get a lot of Powerful Jobs out to his dinners, even when the White House has a Fish Fry for Congress. Of course, you'd have to pay him a fee and go in for a little misrepresentation. Perhaps Joe could tell Sen. Pod that George is a rich takeover person interested in investing in his state. George might even be tapped for election funding."
I told Popsie that as far as giving away money is concerned, George is definitely the wrong man. After all, Beverly, he studied the fares from 14 airlines to find the cheapest way to fly from Toronto to Washington.
"Also," I added, "Beverly and George aren't the least bit interested in famous names and Powerful Jobs."
But Popsie is canny and knows that visitors from home, no matter how modest, have great expectations when they come to Washington.
"Didn't you say that Beverly asked if the president, Mrs. Reagan, the vice president and Sen. Kennedy could drop in for eggnog at the Residence while she was here?"
Actually, Beverly, you wanted to know if "wife of" could wangle an invitation to their houses, but please don't feel you're overreaching yourself. Mr. Ambassador deals with this kind of request from lots of Canadian visitors, be it a high schoool valedictorian from Sarnia, Ontario, or my Aunt Zora. The Embassy has developed a form letter handling these requests. You probably received one in the mail. It says (depending on whom you asked to see): "The president (or Mrs. Reagan, or the vice president, or Sen. Kennedy) is most anxious to make your acquaintance but unfortunately will be at the ranch (Kennebunkport, Hyannisport or speaking in Tampa) at the time of your visit. He tried to alter his plans, but did not succeed."
Don't worry about who's coming to the party, Beverly, because I decided to make it into a Christmas Open House, children over 3 welcome. We've sent out 400 invitations. It will be too crowded for formal introductions. All you have to do is stand at the door and shake hands.
In fact, you and George can stand in for Mr. Ambassador and "wife of." No one will know the difference. We'll be upstairs drinking eggnog with the Tribbles.
Your best friend,