AUGUST IN WASHINGTON is not April in Paris. But fears concerning the event have so proceded it that this particular combination of time and place has become an image of hell in what is left of the American mind. Not only that image unfair; it is also untrue. August in Washington is a very pleasant time indeed, and for the 300-400 citizens who remain to enjoy it, there are many more pleasures available than scanning the weather reports in hopes that a monsoon has hit the fashionable seaside resorts where you are not.
There is the extraordinary pleasure of solitude, for one thing. Once the president and Congress and the lawyers and lobbyists have cleard out, there is no one left in the city to scrutinize your behavior. Men are free to grow moustaches, as many of them do; women, to wear tall green hats. You may make fun of your boss's name, since he's away. Also you may sing. And there are holidays to celebrate, such as the anniversary of Lizzie Borden's arrest, on the 4th, and Arthur Godfrey's birthday, on the 31st. Columbus discovered Venezuela on this very day in 1498.
In fact, the recurrent question posed by most Washingtonians during August is: Where does the time go? With so many things to do, under such delightful circumstances, it's a wonder that any work gets done at all. Yet there is a very special sort of pleasure in dressing up and walking down steamy streets on the way to the office, in 100 degree temperatures, when everyone else you know is fishing by a lake or dozing on a beach - a feeling of pride and devotion to duty unknown to those who waste the month of August by sleeping late and playing tennis and munching crab - a feeling so strong sometimes, it makes you want to scream.
Go ahead. There's no one here to hear you.