At 3 a.m., Mena Marano awoke with a shiver.

"I've never slept in my car before, and I am really afraid," she said as she stared out the window of her 1974 green Pinto station wagon, parked in a line at a darkened Amoco service station in Bethesda.

Marano, 38, had been at the station since midnight, eight hours before it was supposed to open, and she was having a nightmare. But she was not alone as the continuing drama of Washington's gasoline crisis followed a predictable course yesterday.

Pauline A. Smeed, for example, celebrated her 72nd birthday yesterday sleeping in her 1968 white Cadillac parked at the same gas station in Bethesda. "Every year I try to do something different for my birthday," she said at 4 a.m. "Now this is a real adventure, don't you think?"

Most area stations shut down for the weekend or opened for short hours to struggle with ever-longer lines of motorists and the sideshows of spot entrepreneurs, reports and social workers they have begun to attract. One Maryland library offered books to those waiting for gasoline, a florist gave out flowers and some nearby restaurants reported a booming carryout businesses.

Lines were reported to be as much as a mile long in suburdan Maryland. In Baltimore, waiting autos clogged two lanes of some streets for blocks. Few traffic problems were reported around the area, however, as most stations closed early and many drivers stayed home.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge police reported that only about 1,000 cars an hour were passing toward the Eastern Shore beaches yesterday morning, less than half the number normally counted on summer weekends.

South of Washington on Interstate Rte. 95, gas was reported plentiful, but there were "long" lines at some stations. "The lines are bad - six cars," a service station operator in Fredericksburg said.

Area police said traffic was relatively normal for a weekend, and merchants at Northern Virginia's malls reported that the passion for Saturday shopping had not slackened.

Meanwhile, back at the pumps, those who rose early to wait in line found a flourishing subculture around the gas stations that were open.

Motorists waiting in a mile-long gas line along Massachusetts Avenue in Spring Valley received an unexpected treat from a local liquor store: free cold beer. "We thought it would be a good way to cool people off and avoid arguments," said Bill Miller, owner of Spring Valley Wine and Liquors.

Miller's son-in-law, Mark Lobel, handed out five cases of beer along the line.

At the BP station on Wisconsin Avenue at Jenifer Street, Davindeo Marwaha, 11, passed from car to car taking coffee orders on a restaurant bill pad. He delivered the cups for 40 cents each, making a five-cent commmission on each cup.

A Fairfax City police officer said he watched a line of about 50 cars inch toward a Shell station on the Little River Turnpike when a woman pulled past the cars and parked. She was apparently pregnant and asked politely if she could move ahead in the line.

Compassion prevailed, the officer said, and the woman was allowed in the line.

"I was shocked when two pillows suddenly fell out from under her dress," one compassionate motorists later complained to police. ". . . We all thought it was pretty good idea," Walter Dinsdale of Fairfax City said. "Then we chased her back out of the line."

Outside a Citgo station on Connecticut Avenue in Maryland, waiting drivers were offered a selection of paperbacks, mysteries and children's books from the Aspen Hill Library, which wheeled a shopping car along the line.

"We just decided to extend our public service a little bit further," said librarian Nancy Parsons. "There was an awful lot of laughter, but a lot of people borrowed books. I think the favorite was a children's book, "The Hungry Caterpillar."

There were hazards just getting near some gasoline lines yesterday. WTTG TV reporter Chris Lorenzo was setting up his camera crew at a gas station at the intersection of Carlin Springs Road and Rte. 7 in Fairfax County when a van sped past, flattening Lorenzo.

"The on-the-scene, action reporter got knocked on his can," said a Fairfac County police dispatcher. "I guess the guy was fed up with waiting for gas and decided he wasn't going to wait for the reporter to finish his tape."

None the worse for the incident, except for a few bruises, Lorenzo said later he wouldn't press any charges from the incident, which his crew recorded.

Not everyone enduring long lines yesterday were waiting for gas.

Dennis, Barbara and Deana Dibbern of the Plains, Va., drove to McLean at 8 p.m., Friday and spent the night sleeping on the sidewalk outside Dominion Federal Savings and Loan, in order to be first in line to buy three $100 bills for $80 apiece.

The discount money sale, part of a promotion to advertise the savings firm's opening, attracted several hundred customers, most of whom queued up at 6 a.m. yesterday, three hours before the bank opened.

"It was kind of a lark," said Barbara Dibbern, who cooked a steak dinner on a hibachi outside the bank Friday night, and slept in a sleeping bag on the cemet in order to make $60.

"We've waited in line for less," said husband, Dennis. CAPTION: Picture, Mena Marano waited eight hours through the night for Bethesda gas station to open yesterday morning. By Linda Wheeler - The Washington Post