It's a good thing I have you to confide in, because there's something about a conversation with Popsie Tribble that always makes me feel my life is dull and wanting. Mr. Ambassador calls her the "Great Destabilizer" and says that only weak-minded "wives of" pay her so much attention.
Lately, Popsie has been touching base with me by telephone because of her hectic party agenda.
"I'm pooped," she said. "Paris, London, New York, Newport. That's where all the A-list parties have been. Thank heavens for the Concorde."
I tried to switch the subject and told her I thought I was finally getting the hang of Washington.
"Well, that's not hard," she said. "It's such a parochial town. They wear white tie more often even in New Orleans." She paused. "I didn't see you or Mr. Ambassador at any of the A-list parties."
"I don't think they have our names. Who makes up the A list anyhow?" I asked. Popsie was vague.
"You're either on it or not. It's hard to explain these things. Perhaps it would help if they put you in Vogue, W or Town and Country. But I don't think that will happen." She spoke as if she knew something.
Well, Beverly, Popsie wasn't telling the whole truth about how she gets asked to parties. I happen to know that she carries a Rolodex with her when she travels, which contains worldwide unlisted numbers. When she arrives in Paris, let's say, she calls up a medium-important name and says she's come to town to dine alone with a Very Important Name. (No one can really verify if this is true.) Impressed, the medium-important name gives a party in her honor and Popsie's out-of-town social life begins.
"It was a lot of fun but I had to come back for the debates and the election."
Beverly, I thought Mr. Ambassador was wrong; Popsie does have a serious side.
"What did you think of the debates?"
"I hate eating off trays."
"Trays?" I asked.
"They make you eat off trays at debate parties because you have to watch the television. 'Wife of' Portant was silly enough to serve soup, and I spilled it on my Missoni balloon pants. They're 10 years old but good enough for debate parties. It's a very uncivilized way to entertain. Actually I gave a little party in honor of the last debate. Very small, only 'Close-to-the Candidates' as guests, and no trays."
"How did it go?" I asked.
"Not terribly well," Popsie admitted. "We nearly missed the debate. I forgot it was on an hour early, because of Kansas Time. The 'Close-to's' rushed to the television and refused to come into the dining room at all. So nobody ate; and then they began to fight over the gonger."
"What's a gonger?"
"You know, the remote control thing that switches channels. The Close-to's got upset with Dexter, after the debate, when those commentators come on. You see, Dexter's not handy with the gonger. He always gets the commercials. The Close-to's thought he was doing it on purpose because he said he hates it when those commentators tell him what he's supposed to think."
"I suppose you've been invited to a lot of election parties?" I asked.
"Naturally," Popsie replied. "I'd rather go to the intimate chic ones in Georgetown, but then you have to stay all evening or the 'wife of' will be insulted. But I really think Dexter ought to do a walk-through of the Republican and Democratic election parties, just to be seen."
I suppose Popsie's thinking of Dexter's job as Roving Ambassador. I think he wants to be reappointed. Both the Administration and Congress have a hand in Dexter's future, so he can't be too careful.
I know, Beverly, you think that Popsie sounds shallow, but she did put her finger on something about life in Powertown. You have to appear in public from time to time so people know you exist. In Ottawa, you don't have to attend a big party. You just go to the farmers' market on a weekend and see everyone you want. But it's not quite the same here. I tried sitting for an afternoon in Dupont Circle and not one person said hello to me.
I asked Sonny Goldstone, the Gilded Bachelor and Social Asset, if there was a public place in Washington, like an agora, where Powerful Jobs congregate.
"Aside from the tennis courts?"
"Sometimes I hang around the dried-mushroom section at Sutton Place on a Saturday morning. Joe Promisall occasionally drops in to the Georgetown Safeway and claims he's made a few deals. They say it's worth being seen at the Giant Gourmet in McLean, but I think it's a waste of time. Too long a drive from Capitol Hill."
Anyway, Beverly, give my best to the Prime Minister when you see him at the farmers' market next Saturday.
Your best friend,