Fearful of running out of gasoline between Washington and the Delaware shore, an accountant in search of a suntan recently flew to Jamaica for the weekend.

"After all," he explained, "we must have some standards -- even in times of adversity."

Running on empty has prompted dramatic changes in the lives of most Washingtonians, jilting what sociologists call America's love affair with the automobile. "We have created a lifestyle in this country which is automobile-dependent," said Larry Jenne of the Congr3essional office of Tenchnology Assessment.

Now that life style is in jeopardy.A key question emerging from the gasoline crisis is whether the recent changes will be permanent or a phenomenon of summer '79.

Accouding to Dr. Marcus Raskin of the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think-tank, this summer marks the end of the automobile's domiance in American culture. "The new lifestyle will be more rational," Raskin said, "People will have a better sense of what a society could be like."

Other social scientists, however, look back to a similar crisis only five years ago -- the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74 -- and wonder whether Americans will ignore again the lessons of the past.

"We drifted back to the old habits after the oil embargo because there was no reinforcement," Jenney said. "I suspect that we may have the same situation again."

In either case, many Washingtonians- are driving less and saying they enjor it more. Others have adapted to a fuel-short society out of necessity, groushing all the way.

"When I think of all the 30-cent gallons of gasoline that I wasted crusing around the Hot Shoppes," one father said nostalgically last week. "My son won't be doing that."

Living with less gasoline also has meant less shopping, less nightclub hopping and fewer weekend jaunts for area residents.

As Barbara Howard, an Amtrak clerk, puts it: "I'm becoming a real homebody."

So are thousands of Washingtonians caught in the gasoline crunch. Priorities are being rearranged, and leisure activities, once considered necessities of the good life here, are taking a back seat to humdrum -- but essential -- chores.

"First priority is getting to work," one District resident said. "Next is food. After that, the decisions have to be made."

For some American families, weekends at home are cushioned by the three b's: the bottle, the book and the Bible. A spot survey of area liquor stores, libraries and churches last weekend reveraled increased activity in all three areas.

"That seems to be the case," said one liquor store manager in Northern Virginia, whose business has increased 50 percent since the start of the gasoline crunch. "They're staying home and drinking more because they're not driving."

Several church pastors noted a marked increased in Sunday service attendance, and some librarians say they are busier than ever. "Book circulation and telephone reference (calls) have increased significantly," said Patricia Paine, deputy director of the Fairfax County library system. Telephone calls this month alone have jumped 15.8 percent, she said.

"There'a no question" that the crunch has boosted church attendance, said Harold Jansen, Eastern District bishop of the American Lutheran Church. "Attendance has been better than this time last year."

For alexandria auto repairman Dennis Whitesone, living with less gas has meant an end to weekend auto races. That would seem to be good news to his wife. "Oh no," Whitestone said. "She drives in them."

Alexandria Sheriff Mike Norris said that last week he bought a metal grocery cart for walking to the supermarket and has canceled several family vacations. "We used to eat out at restaurants three or four times a week," he said. "now we don't."

"I don't want to live with less gas," said Pat Savino, a Fairfax father of three who carpools to his government job in Rockville. "But we're going to have to. The free ride is over."

A look at the Savinos illustrates houw widespread some changes facing Washingtonians are.

"We're not going to let the children drive around as much," said Savino, a Food and Durng Administration employe. "They used to be running to the sore every five minutes. And our son just got a job as a lifeguard in Manassas. Unless we can get him into a car pool, that's going to end."

Savino also salt his family is cuting out beach trips this summer and has curtailed shopping trips "to a large extent. "In fact, Savino said, "I borrowed a can of tomato sauce from a neighbor this week for the first time, rather than drive to the store."

"I think people are getting together more," said Kathleen Gillen, 22, a swim coach at Virginia Hills Club in Alexandria. "I've noticed that parents no longer drop off their kids and then return to pick them up. They stay with the children now."

"We used to have a lot of fun just taking off on weekends," said Barbara Mock, a computer analyst from Annandale whose husband is an Army officer. "Now we stay home. We're spending more time with the dog, doing yard work and decorating. It hasn't hurt us to stay home," she said. "In fact it's probably been good for us."

Others, including 17-year-old George becker, say that the changes have been less than pleasurable. "I don't take my girlfriend to the movies anymore," complained Becker, who works at Alexandria Hospital. "Now I have to save my gas to get to work."

The long gasoline lines have changed IBM salesman Robert Firor's afternoons. "Most of the salesmen used to get together for a drink after work," he said. "Now all the watering holes are empty. We have to spend that hour looking for gas."

The Firors, who used to drive every weekend from their Frederick home to a summer cottage in Kenwood, Md., have gone to Chesapeake Bay only once this summer. Their motorboat is docked most weekends. "The damn thing runs on gas," he said."Now we go down and look at it."

Can they manage with less gas? "It's a pain in the a--, but I can do it," Frior said.

"I don't know anybody who hasn't changed their habits a litle bit," said Judy Hubbard, a Cleveland Park housewife and mother of two.

Hubbard said she now walks to grocery stores and recently dropped membership in an arlington tennis club in favor of a closer one.

"A year from now, I plan to have no car at all," she said.

The changes are more difficult for others. William Cummings, former alexandria federal prosecutor, faces a daily commute of 108 miles from his Loudoun County home to his Alexandria office.

"We've got to change our lifestyle," he said. Cummings has ruled out long weekend trips from his home to Annapolis, where he shares a sailboat with two friends. In the future, Cummings said, he will spend the night in Alexandria, then drive to Annapolis.

Others see benefits in the crisis. The crisis is going to produce "a more literate society," predicted Peter von zur Muehlen of Reston. "Everybody's reading in the gas lines."

A Washington private investigator says his wife, "who hasn't been on a bus in 15 years," suddenly is taking public transportation around the city. "Suddenly," he said, "it's not too plebeian to take the bus."

But Albert Dell, 58, of Arlington, said he changed his lifestyle five years ago during the Arab oil embargo. Every morning, Dell hops on his bicycle and peddles to his Alexandria job. Last week, he hit the 10,000-mile mark. "I ride rain or shine," he said. "I rode through hurricane Alice, when the wind chill factor was minus 35, and in 97-degree heat."

Another Washingtonian unaffected by the crunch is Earl Bugbee, a dispatcher at Easy Method Driving School in Silver Spring. Bugbee walks five blocks to work every morning, past the gas lines that have snaked around his block.

Bugbee doesn't drive. He's totally bind.

"Maybe this is the one plus in my situation," he said, laughing. CAPTION: Picture 1, Adapting to Metro schedules after years of driving often means running. By John McDonnell - The Washington Post; Illustration, "And do you promise to stick together during the coming crunch?" Drawing by Dedini; c 1979, The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.; Picture 2, Adapting to shortage means some can pedal past those who line up for fuel. By John "mcDonnell -- The Washington Post