To tell you the truth, I'm not surprised to hear you put on a few pounds this summer. When George brought the new ice-cream maker and ravioli machine to test at the lake, I knew how it would be.
If it's any comfort, I'll tell you what happened to me. We dined on black pasta and wild mushrooms within a mile of the Golden Gate Bridge, and glazed quail and chocolate mud pie on the 48th floor of a Dallas skyscraper. No, Mr. Ambassador and "wife of" did not deliberately choose to go on a gourmet tour of the United States. We merely attended the Democratic and Republican conventions.
At Gumps in San Francisco and Neiman Marcus in Dallas we bumped into Lionel Portant, World-Famous Columnist and Media Personality, consuming a baby spare rib and a glass of champagne. Normally, you're not supposed to eat in department stores, but this was special because both the Democrats and Republicans thought that a cocktail party among the coat racks might be something to remember. At the Dallas department store party, Mr. Ambassador asked Portant for his overview (that's the word he used, Beverly) of the two conventions. Portant, as usual, took his time before answering, mentally sorting out what he should reveal to Mr. Ambassador and what should be held back for the column. Finally he said:
"The sashimi was better at the Democrats but the Republicans know their nachos."
Well, Portant wasn't giving anything away that Mr. Ambassador didn't know already so he left me to talk to Popsie Tribble, whom we last saw in San Francisco at a Democratic cold-noodle party. She was now standing beside the Republican noodle table. (Beverly, there seems to be some connection between cold pasta and politics but I haven't yet figured it out.)
Anyway, I was left with Lionel Portant, who realized he couldn't escape from "wife of" without a polite remark.
"Tell me," he asked, "what do wives of Ambassadors do at American political conventions?"
It was a good question, Beverly, and he wasn't the first to be puzzled. In Dallas, I found myself at a luncheon table where everybody else seemed to be a delegate from Nebraska and nobody including myself knew why I was there. I tried to get into the Nebraska swing of things during the lunch, but my companions weren't fooled, especially when I laughed at Joan Rivers' jokes and the Nebraskans didn't. They were kind enough to include me in a group photo for the Omaha newspaper, but I think I was identified as the Nebraskan-Manitoban delegate to the conventions.
Don't worry, Beverly. That kind of mixup didn't happen too often. In San Francisco and Dallas, the Democrats and Republicans found it safest to entertain neutral diplomats in neutral surroundings like art galleries, where the delegates never go.
Of course, Popsie Tribble is in quite a different category. She attends both conventions because of all the "in parties" she's obliged to go to, the kind that are never mentioned in the newspapers. Popsie's not the only member of the W. contingent, dressed in Galanos and Givenchy, who make appearances at the two conventions with invitations filed in Rolodexes. But Popsie, being a Washington Socialite, has to be more sensitive to the political aspect of Election Year. Now she's planning her pre-November entertaining and she told me a little about her difficulties.
"I hope the polls aren't going to be volatile, because I ask my Close-to-the-Candidates in proportion to the latest Harris and Gallup polls. Of course I always use the independent pollsters." Popsie knows Close-to-Mondales, Close-to-Reagans, and even one Close-to-Ferraro.
"But you see," Popsie said, "my invitations have to be out at least four weeks in advance, and if Mondale overtakes Reagan between the acceptance and the party, won't I look like a fool?"
Beverly, I can tell you one thing. Entertainment plans at our embassy are not as muddled as Popsie's, although election year in the States produces rather a suspicious attitude on the part of Powertown towards Mr. Ambassador and "wife of." Important Jobs seem to think we smile wider at the Close-to whose candidate goes up in the polls. But embassies don't operate like Popsie Tribble.
Congressman Otterbach, D., said to me rather acidly,
"If Mondale doesn't get in I suppose you won't have me for supper."
Congressman Otterbach has had something to do with quotas on Heavy Goods (hogs and steel, Beverly, hogs and steel) for the last 20 years an will continue to do so for the next 20. (Mr. Ambassador told me 90 percent of all Congressmen get reelected no matter who becomes President.)
Now Congressman Otterbach gets overwrought during the pre-election session and begins to toy around with Tariffs.
So Mr. Ambassador smiles very wide at Congressman Otterbach and tells him to name the day he wishes to dine. Well, of course, Otterbach is always speaking in Tampa and Atlanta when he's not in congressional session, but says he might drop in after his election.
Anyway, Beverly, good luck with the club soda and salad diet. I'm on Tab and toast myself.
Your best friend, Sondra