I am awake at 6 a.m., and The Post has not been delivered yet. My wife is walking the dog in the park. I need something to read while having my coffee. I'd been busy all day Sunday, mostly watching basketball. I realize that I haven't yet read the Sunday Outlook section.

My eyes gravitate to the Company Town article. As usual, I'm interested in learning more about my Washington neighbors. The guy in the photograph accompanying the article looks a lot like a lot of my neighbors, I think.

It seems this novice lawyer has put his wife on a plane for Florida for a week. He and his partner, Lewis, then begin hanging lawyer's shingles in a trendy office near Washington Circle. On Monday, his new letterhead stationery arrives, but he decides that he won't use it very often. I wonder why. (But later I figure it's probably because he's concerned that if someone associated his name with the March 21 Company Town article, they'd go see another lawyer.)

I learn that the painters didn't spatter any paint around the office like he had expected they would. At night he and Lewis have really hot beef stew for dinner. "Wow!" I say, "I wish I had that recipe!" Also, I think, it seems every time I read a Company Town article, I learn how pooped these overachieving Washington neighbors of mine are at day's end, especially such types as administrative assistants and psychological social workers. But if they're so exhausted when they get home, usually late, how is it they still have the time and energy to prepare dishes like p,at,e de foie gras with truffles and invite friends over? I read on, fascinated.

During a bustling visit to the courthouse to pick up his tax forms, he explains the reasons for the forms and later ponders that income taxes can be complicated--even for lawyers! Sure, I think, no wonder he finds them complicated--it's because other lawyers write the tax laws!

This new lawyer meets a friend and they both understand French. They attend a French movie, but feel too lazy to listen to that language during the flick, so they read the English subtitles. Gee, I think, I wish I was smart enough to know French like these two guys, because if I did, I'd look at the action and listen; that would be a lot easier than jumping my eyes up and down between the picture and the subtitles.

Later on in the week, his carpeting arrives and he watches "Dallas." I think, Gee, my neighbors are really well-rounded, what with French movies one night and "Dallas" another. I begin to feel inferior.

The week is not over, however. When a tricky lump is discovered in the carpeting, there is unrestrained rollicking. That such smart guys could be faced with a problem perplexing enough for a Philadelphia lawyer proves that we're all human. What a keen sense of humor, I say aloud!

The Post delivery person arrives as I'm clipping the article. I read the sports pages, Metro, browse through Section A and probe through Style, looking for Tom Shales.

The ride into Washington in our beige Mustang is spirited, except for the delays caused by drivers with DPL as the first three letters on their tags. My wife works as a secretary, and I am a federal bureaucrat.

Routine day. I do my assigned duties. I hear talk of reorganization and RIFs. I have lunch with friends at the Riverside Cafe, where the food and drinks are excellent. I meet my wife after work and we return home.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Same as Monday. More RIF talk. I think to myself, if this RIF keeps up, I'll have to prepare for another occupation. I think, Heck! Why not writing? Maybe if someone sees me in print, like, say, Reader's Digest, I could send them a r,esum,e if I get RIF'd.


Uneventful day. Same routine until noon. I have lunch with friends at our favorite pub. I mention that I'm considering submitting an article to Company Town. I explain that if lawyers and such can write about their active lives, then so can I. "Yeah," says my friend holding the draught, "but you and your wife are so dippy. I mean, neither of you has a fancy job title like 'program analyst' or 'assistant director of research.' So forget it. The Post won't print it. Besides, I'll bet all of those people submitting articles to Company Town have been published previously, say in their high school yearbook, or something." Lots of laughter. Another guy says, "I heard Tom Shales ghost-writes all those Company Town articles as farce." I become angry and leave.